ABC News’ Rick Klein Reports: The latest WMUR/University of New Hampshire tracking poll has John McCain opening up a six-point lead over Mitt Romney, 33-27. In their last poll, taken Dec. 27-30, McCain and Romney were tied at 29.
The sample size is small, the margin of error large (five), but this is the first post-Iowa snapshot we have of the race, and it raises the stakes for Romney. The Romney campaign is furiously spinning the prospect of a second-place finish as a win, but as we note today he’s spending more money than all of his rivals COMBINED in New Hampshire, just like he did in Iowa, where he only took the silver. The poll also has Rudy Giuliani in third at 14, Mike Huckabee fourth with 11, and Ron Paul in fifth with 9. (Fred Thompson is tied with with Duncan Hunter at 1 — wow.)
Among the Democrats, it’s Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama tied at 33. If you’re with the Clinton campaign, this is a mixed message — it is tight tight tight in the state she needs to regain momentum, but at least she hasn’t cratered in the wake of Iowa.
These numbers are roughly the same as they were in the last poll, which it at 34-30 Clinton over Obama. In the new numbers, John Edwards is running third at 20 percent — if that holds, he’s going to have trouble moving on from New Hampshire. Bill Richardson is in a distant fourth at 4 percent, just above Dennis Kucinich’s 2 percent.