NH Primary: Keep An Eye On Richardson


New York Senator Hillary Clinton's once-daunting lead among likelyvoters in the New Hampshire Democratic primary is slipping. But neither of her principle rivals, Illinois Senator Barack Obama nor former North Carolina Senator John Edwards, is gaining much.

The action is with New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.

Clinton's at 36 percent in the new CNN/WMUR-TV poll, down from 43 percent in September.

Obama's at 22 percent, roughly the same as the 20 percent he had in September.

Edwards is at 13 percent, up a statistically insignificant one percent from September.

The numbers for the top three parallel results seen in a recent Boston Globe survey of likely New Hampshire primary participants.

And then there is Richardson, who has been campaigning aggressively in New Hampshire as an anti-war candidate -- promising to bring all U.S. troops home from Iraq in short order.

In September, Richardson was at 6 percent. Now, he is at 12 percent.

That's a dramatic jump when the two CNN/WMUR polls are compared. But it appears to be the continuation of a pattern of improvement for Richardson that becomes clearer when the Boston Globe survey from earlier this month is factored in. That survey showed the New Mexico governor moving from 6 percent in September to 10 percent.

So we've got two polls tracking an uptick for Richardson from 6 percent to 10 percent to 12 percent.

If the pattern holds, the New Mexican will easily overtake Edwards and could begin closing in on Obama by the time New Hampshire holds its first in the nation primary.

It is worth noting that, according to the polls, Richardson is now viewed as more experienced than either Obama or Edwards by the New Hampshire voters. His numbers are dramatically up in other categories, as well, especially on measures of trust -- the New Mexican now leads Clinton in this category.

Richardson's move into double digits in New Hampshire parallels his under-covered rise in the first caucus state of Iowa. While much of the discussion about recent polls from that state has focused on the news that Obama has moved narrowly ahead of Clinton -- they are actually in a statistical tie -- some of the most interesting movement in the first-caucus state has been toward Richardson, who is now at 11 percent.

While several polls suggest that Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich has moved ahead of Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd, Delaware Senator Joe Biden and former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel in New Hampshire, none of the these four contenders has moved out of single digits in New Hampshire or Iowa.

The bottomline: Richardson is moving up. He could stall. But if he keeps going in the direction he's headed in, the governor could yet be a serious contender in the critical first tests of the Democratic race.

Posted by John Nichols at 11/21/2007 @ 11:57am | EmailThis Post

Alex Goepfert

New Hampshire Communications Director

Bill Richardson for President