Inside the latest numbers from New Hampshire

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows that Hillary Clinton leads Barack Obama by six percentage points (35-29) among likely voters in New Hampshire. John Edwards is in third place with 17 percent. These results, of course, are too close for Hillary’s comfort.
The internal numbers are quite interesting. Clinton leads Obama pretty decisively among Democrats (41 to 26). This is consistent with the national numbers; indeed the national Real Clear Politics average is virtually identical.
Thus, if Hillary has a problem in New Hampshire, it’s probably because her standing with independents has slipped, not her standing with Democrats. This suggests that an Obama victory in New Hampshire might be somewhat of an anomaly, since many Democratic primaries are closed to independents. As long as Clinton maintains her clear advantage among Democrats, especially in big states, her prospects for obtaining the nomination remain excellent.
However, to the extent that New Hampshire is indicative, Clinton should be concerned that she’s not more popular among independents, since she will need to do well among these voters in the general election. And it’s possible, though not likely, that her popularity among Democratic voters will suffer if she’s seen as not popular among independents.
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