With the New Hampshire Presidential Primaries just six days away, John McCain and Hillary Clinton are their respective party’s front-runners, according to a 7NEWS/Suffolk University poll released today.

In the Republican Primary, McCain (32 percent) led Mitt Romney (23 percent), Rudy Giuliani (11 percent), Mike Huckabee (10 percent), Ron Paul (8 percent), Fred Thompson (2 percent) and Duncan Hunter (1 percent). Thirteen percent were undecided. Giuliani’s numbers have declined in six consecutive polls, from a high of 37 percent in March 2007 to 11 percent as of Jan. 2, 2008.

McCain led 46 percent-to-24 percent among older voters. He also led among both registered Republicans and independents, the latter a former stronghold of the Romney campaign. In addition, Ron Paul’s third-place showing among independents (11 percent) may reduce the available independent pie left on election day.

“Straight talk never gets old,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. “The question is: Can John McCain survive a third-place finish in Iowa if Mitt Romney storms into New Hampshire with a first- or second-place win.”

In the Democratic Primary, the 7NEWS/Suffolk University poll also shows that Clinton (37 percent) continues to lead Barack Obama (20 percent), John Edwards (16 percent), Bill Richardson (5 percent), Joe Biden (3 percent), Christopher Dodd (1 percent) and Dennis Kucinich (1 percent). Sixteen percent were undecided.

Clinton support widespread

Clinton led Obama 41 percent-to-18 percent among registered Democrats, 40 percent-to-18 percent among women, and 39 percent-to-13 percent among voters age 65 and older. However, one out of four elderly voters (25 percent) was still undecided in the Democratic Primary.

“Hillary Clinton has methodically locked up the most reliable voters. In addition, she has widespread support geographically in the four major regions of the state, right down to the county level.”

When voters from each party were asked who they thought would be the next president of the United States regardless of whom they currently support, Democrats chose Clinton (40 percent) and Obama (18 percent), with 30 percent undecided. Republicans predicted Romney (19 percent), McCain (15 percent), Clinton (12 percent) and Giuliani (10 percent). Thirty-three percent were undecided.

Daily tracking polls

This poll kicks off a series of daily tracking polls conducted by 7NEWS/Suffolk University. Each poll will consist of 250 likely voters statewide each day from the Democratic and Republican Primaries. 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 from 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.

The 7NEWS-Suffolk University tracking poll was conducted Dec. 31, 2007, and Jan. 1, 2008. The margin of error for each party subsample of 500 respondents is +/- 4.38 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. The 1,000 respondent margin of error is +/- 3.10 percent. All respondents are likely voters for the respective New Hampshire presidential primaries on Jan. 8, 2008. Charts, marginals and 54 pages of cross-tabulation data will be posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center Web site on Jan. 2, 2008.