With the New Hampshire Presidential Primaries just one week away, John McCain (31 percent) has overtaken Mitt Romney (25 percent) in the battle for the Republican nomination, according to a 7NEWS/Suffolk University poll released today. In last month’s 7NEWS/Suffolk University poll, McCain trailed Romney by 12 percent.

This is the first poll that has John McCain in first place in New Hampshire since 7News/Suffolk University began polling this race in March 2007.

Clinton lead widens

In the Democratic Primary, the 7NEWS/Suffolk University poll also shows that Hillary Clinton has opened up a significant lead on Barack Obama and John Edwards. Some 36 percent of likely voters in the Democratic Primary supported Hillary Clinton, while 22 percent chose Barack Obama, and 14 percent selected John Edwards. Lagging behind were Bill Richardson (7 percent), Joe Biden (4 percent), Dennis Kucinich (3 percent), and Christopher Dodd (1 percent). Twelve percent of Democratic voters were undecided.

“The Hillary Clinton machine survived last month’s doldrums and emerged stronger,” said Paleologos. “Democrats danced with Obama in December, but haven’t stayed with him.”

Giuliani in third place

On the Republican side, Rudy Giuliani continues to poll third, with 14 percent, followed by Mike Huckabee (9 percent), Ron Paul (6 percent), Fred Thompson (2 percent), and Alan Keyes (1 percent). Twelve percent were undecided.

“Many of the Republican candidates have been talking about faith, but it looks like John McCain is headed for a religious experience in the Granite State,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. “If these numbers hold up, New Hampshire Republicans may give McCain the nickname of Lazarus, rising from the dead.”

A string of newspaper endorsements for McCain, coupled with news articles questioning Romney’s consistency, have forced Romney to air attack ads on McCain in hopes of shifting the spotlight and salvaging a win here. The negative ads may have backfired for Romney, who has outspent McCain in New Hampshire by a wide margin.

Tracking polls

This poll kicks off a series of daily New Hampshire tracking polls to be conducted by 7NEWS/Suffolk University. Each poll will consider 250 likely Democratic and Republican primary voters statewide each day. A two-day rolling average of 500 Democrats and 500 Republicans will be reported every morning at 6:30 a.m. on 7NEWS Today in New England. Suffolk University Adjunct Professor David Paleologos will be available all week in Manchester, N.H., to comment on the latest trends and demographics and to offer political analysis. He may be reached at 781-290-9310 or 646-228-4448.

This 7NEWS-Suffolk University poll was conducted from Dec. 27 to Dec. 31, 2007. 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 were likely voters in the Jan. 8, 2008, New Hampshire presidential primary. Charts, marginals and 172 pages of cross-tabulation data will be available on the Suffolk University Political Research Center Web site at 6 p.m. on Jan. 1, 2008.