On the strength of independent and young voters, Barack Obama has opened up a five-point lead over Hillary Rodham Clinton, according to a 7NEWS/Suffolk University two-day rolling average tracking poll released today. The flow of these voters to Obama is a dynamic that mirrors Iowa’s Democratic Caucus.

Meanwhile, 19 percent of independents who say they will take a Republican ballot remain undecided. They are poised to play the role of kingmaker in the McCain-Romney fight.

Obama support widespread

In the Democratic Primary, Obama (39 percent) leads Clinton (34 percent), John Edwards (15 percent) and Bill Richardson (4 percent). Eight percent were undecided.

“New Hampshire Democratic Primary voters seem ready to ratify the history made by Barack Obama in Iowa and etch it granite,” said Professor David Paleologos, director of the Political Research Center at Boston’s Suffolk University. “Obama’s widespread support extends to nine of ten counties, excluding Rockingham County, where he polls twenty-three percent to Clinton’s forty-five percent and John Edwards’ twenty-five percent.”

Paleologos noted that Obama has cut into Clinton’s base of elderly voter support: He now trails Clinton by 41 percent-to-34 percent, where two days ago the margin was 42 percent-to-29 percent.

Romney leads McCain

In the Republican Primary, the 7NEWS/Suffolk University poll shows Mitt Romney maintaining a slim lead, within the margin of error, leaving the race essentially where it has been for the last three days: a dead heat. Romney (30 percent) led John McCain (26 percent), followed by Mike Huckabee (13 percent), Rudy Giuliani (11 percent), Ron Paul (5 percent), Fred Thompson (2 percent) and Duncan Hunter (1 percent). Ten percent were undecided.

“The Republican race is destined to be decided by the turnout of New Hampshire’s notoriously maverick voters,” said Paleologos. “Mitt Romney’s lead over John McCain is fairly static at four percent. Mike Huckabee has seen an uptick of four percentage points, setting up a contest for third place with Rudy Giuliani, while Ron Paul’s support has declined from eight percent to five percent.”

“It would be ironic if independent voters wind up deciding the winner of the Republican contest, but with nineteen percent of independents who say they will vote Republican still undecided, that just may well be what happens,” he said.


The poll released today is the eighth and final in a series of daily tracking polls conducted by 7NEWS/Suffolk University leading up to today’s Primary. Each poll consists of 250 likely voters statewide each day from the Democratic and Republican Primaries. A two-day rolling average of 500 Democrats and 500 Republicans has been reported every morning at 6:30 a.m. on “7NEWS Today in New England.”

Suffolk University Adjunct Professor David Paleologos is in Manchester today based at the Radisson Hotel and available 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 Jan. 6 and Jan. 7. 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 were 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 today, Jan. 8, 2008.