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

Clinton's better standing among Democrats (41 percent support, and a 15-point lead over Obama) as opposed to independents (27 percent, to Obama's 31) is notable. Again, there's no such difference in Iowa, a much lower-turnout event. In New Hampshire, Obama's helped by the fact that an unusually large number of independents participate (46 percent in this poll are registered independents, about their share in the 2004 primary). But in other states, where primary voting is limited to party registrants, Clinton could gain.

To address weaknesses among population groups, Clinton may look at married men, among whom she has just 24 percent support; the most highly educated voters, 23 percent; and, as noted, younger adults. She's supported by 27 percent of likely voters under age 40, compared with 44 percent of those 65 and older. The patterns are similar in national ABC/Post polling.

Clinton's advantage among women also shows up in the 19 percent of likely voters who say the fact that she'd be the first woman president makes them more likely to support her. Women are twice as likely as men to say so, 24 percent vs. 12 percent, rising to 32 percent of single women (which includes divorced and widowed women as well as those never married). It's also higher among Democrats vs. independents, among older people and among liberals vs. moderates.

ATTRIBUTES -- In terms of attributes, Obama easily trumps Clinton as the candidate who's the "most inspiring," leads her on honesty and trustworthiness (a Clinton weakness nationally and in Iowa as well) and challenges her on empathy. The two run evenly on the question of who would do most to bring needed change to Washington.

But, as noted, Clinton comes back very strongly on her other attributes -- electability, experience (on which Obama is quite weak) and strong leadership. And she leads Obama by 17 points as the candidate who's campaigned hardest in New Hampshire, a plus in a state where candidates are expected early and often.

ISSUES -- Building on her ratings for experience and leadership, Clinton leads in New Hampshire on six of seven issues tested in this poll, with an especially large advantage on one of the top concerns to likely Democratic voters, health care.

Obama, notably, leads on none of these.

Unlike Republican voters, there is a clear emphasis among Democrats on top issues: About half cite both health care and the war in Iraq as the two most important issues in their vote, with the economy and education following -- quite similar to views in Iowa. Among Democrats nationally the same items come up, with some different emphasis.

These are in sharp contrast to likely Republican voters in New Hampshire, who, as in Iowa and nationally, disperse among a wider range of issues.

CONTACT and TURNOUT -- Likely Democratic voters are more engaged than their Republican counterparts -- 12 points more likely to be very enthusiastic about their choice of a candidate, twice as likely to have attended a campaign event (35 percent vs. 17 percent) and 20 points more apt to have received a phone call from a campaign (74 percent vs. 54 percent).

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