The latest Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll of 1,000 likely New Hampshire voters came out today, based on interviews conducted as recently as last night. Here are the numbers:
With a margin of error of plus or minus four points and fourteen percent undecided, the race remains wide open. Still, two points stand out. The first is that Fred Thompson has essentially zero traction in New Hampshire. Maybe he’s pursuing a Southern strategy, but a lot of Republicans, like me, think it is important for the GOP to break out of the Southern mold. The second is that Mitt Romney continues to hold a perceptible lead over very formidable competition. I think Romney could make an excellent President, but I’ve been concerned about whether his political skills are up to the challenge of a national campaign. So far, though, you have to give him credit for a very strong effort in New Hampshire.
On the Democratic side, the results are less interesting.
Hillary Clinton leads a weak field–to put it mildly, Barack Obama is no John McCain, and John Edwards is no Rudy Giuliani–by seven points. That’s pretty much the story on the Democratic side: Hillary isn’t impressing anyone, but she’ll probably win the nomination by default.
PAUL adds: Thompson basically thumbed his nose at New Hampshire, which you can’t do and still hope to have any success in a state which fancies that its mission is to vet presidential candidates for the rest of us.
The Fox poll shows McCain within shouting distance of Rudy. He has rarely hit 20 percent in New Hampshire, so the results are very good news for him. Since my travel with McCain in the state, I’ve thought he has a shot at winning there, but my sense is he’ll do so only if lots of non-Republicans vote for him, and that won’t be easy to accomplish this time.
New Hampshire really seems like make-or-break for McCain. If he doesn’t win there or run a very strong second, well ahead of Rudy, I think the Republican party’s most electable candidate will be finished.
MORE (from Paul): The latest Rasmussen poll paints a different picture than Fox’s. It has Romney with 34 percent and a 19 point lead. Giuliani, McCain, and Huckabee are in a virtual tie for second place with 14 or 15 percent. This poll is very much in line with my theory that Mitt has his own space in New Hampshire, while Giulaini and McCain trade support among center-right voters and Huckabee and Thompson trade support (mostly on a one-way street these days) among conservatives.
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