POLL: Clinton Fends Off Obama in N.H. With More Committed Support

Hillary Clinton is holding off Barack Obama in New Hampshire with a single-digit but seemingly solid lead, scoring more committed and enthusiastic support, higher trust to handle pressing issues and broad margins on leadership, experience and electability.

Obama is challenging Clinton in Iowa, and this ABC News/Washington Post poll puts him potentially within striking distance in New Hampshire as well. But some of the underlying currents boosting Obama in Iowa are less powerful here, with Clinton's support more settled.

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Among likely voters in the Democratic primary, Clinton has 35 percent support, Obama 29 percent, John Edwards 17 percent and Bill Richardson 10 percent, with others in the low single digits. That compares to a 30-26 percent Obama-Clinton race in Iowa in an ABC/Post poll there two weeks ago.

Clinton's lead in New Hampshire inches up in lower-turnout scenarios, suggesting her support is more reliable. Moreover, among those who've definitely decided on their candidate, she leads Obama by a wide 43-28 percent; and among the most enthusiastic likely voters she leads him by 45-24 percent. There's no such difference in Iowa.

Looking at the flipside, changeability, among the one in four likely voters who say there's a good chance they may change their minds, 23 percent currently support Clinton, 36 percent Obama. That suggests he's more vulnerable to reconsideration.

At the same time Obama is taking full advantage of Clinton's weaknesses. A perceived lack of forthrightness continues to dog her; 41 percent in New Hampshire say Clinton's not willing enough to say what she really thinks, twice as many as say that about her chief competitors. And among those people, hardly any -- just 7 percent -- support her, while 41 percent support Obama.

Additionally, a majority of likely voters in the state seek "a new direction and new ideas" -- a page from Obama's playbook -- rather than strength and experience. And "new direction" voters favor Obama over Clinton by 44 percent to 19 percent. Those who place more value on strength and experience, by contrast, are with Clinton by nearly 6-1.

Obama's lead among "new direction" voters is similar to what it is in the same group in Iowa (and that group is about the same size). But Clinton's advantage among "strength and experience" voters is much bigger in New Hampshire; that theme's stronger resonance in the Granite State is key to her lead.

For all this, a total of 51 percent of Democratic likely voters in New Hampshire say they still might change their minds -- fewer than the 61 percent who say so in the Republican race, but still indicating substantial room to move.

Additionally, 27 percent say they may take the results of the Iowa caucuses, five days before the New Hampshire primary, into account, although fewer than half of them say they'll give it much weight.

GROUPS -- Obama's running competitively with Clinton among men, younger likely voters and political independents; she owes her advantage to women (particularly single women), older voters (particularly senior citizens) and mainline Democrats.

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