With the New Hampshire Presidential Primaries less than four weeks away, Hillary Clinton’s lead has slipped, and she now leads Barack Obama by just seven points, according to a 7NEWS/Suffolk University poll. In last month’s 7NEWS/Suffolk University poll, Clinton led Obama by 12 points.

In the Republican race, Mitt Romney remains in front, while John McCain has surged into second, according to today's poll.

Thirty-three percent of likely voters in the Democratic Primary support Clinton; 26 percent, Obama; and 15 percent, John Edwards. Nineteen percent were undecided.

“Obama trails by single digits and is well within the statistical margin of error,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. “Obama leads among men, independents and younger voters, while Clinton is well ahead among women, registered Democrats and older voters.”

Oprah effect negligible

While 97 percent of likely Democratic Primary voters were aware that Oprah Winfrey had endorsed Obama, just 7 percent said the endorsement would make them support Obama, while 88 percent said it would not. When the same voters were asked whose endorsement was worth more, 56 percent said Bill Clinton’s, while 19 percent said Winfrey’s. Seventy-four percent of likely Democratic voters said that they would not vote for Winfrey if she were a candidate for president.

In the Republican Primary, Romney (31 percent) slipped since the last 7NEWS/Suffolk University poll on Nov. 28, but still topped a surging McCain (19 percent), who moved past Rudy Giuliani into second place. Giuliani (17 percent) also lost ground, while Mike Huckabee (10 percent), whose national support has grown dramatically, gained 3 percent since the November poll.

Views on religion

When likely Republican voters were asked if freedom requires religion, as Romney claimed in his speech on “Faith in America” last week, 55 percent said no, while 34 percent said yes. Fifty-three percent said there should be complete separation of church and state, while 35 percent disagreed.

Voters from both party primaries said McCain is the most candid of the presidential hopefuls. He topped both fields with 15 percent, followed by Obama (13 percent), and Clinton (11 percent). Yet, when all voters were asked whom they believed would be the next president, 28 percent said Clinton, followed by Romney (11 percent), Obama (11 percent), and Giuliani (10 percent).

The 7NEWS-Suffolk University poll was conducted from Dec. 9 to Dec. 11, 2007. All Democratic interviews were conducted Dec. 10-11. The margin of error for each party subsample of 300 respondents is +/- 5.65 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. The 600 respondent margin of error is +/- 4 percent. All respondents are likely primary voters for the New Hampshire presidential primary on Jan. 8, 2008. Charts, marginals, and 205 pages of cross-tabulation data are available. For more information, please contact David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center, at 781-290-9310.