Non-Iowa polls: ARG surveys New Hampshire, and Rasmussen has McCain in front

A day after releasing numbers from Iowa, ARG came out with a new NH survey -- showing the GOP race tied up and Edwards rising among Democrats:

  • In the Democratic race, Hillary Clinton gets 31% to Barack Obama's 27%. But most of Clinton's decline benefits Edwards, who rises to 21% -- the highest he has been since the spring in ARG polls. No other candidate gets more than 5%.
  • In the Republican race, ARG shows a tie just as it did two weeks ago: McCain and Romney both get 30%, with everyone else far behind: Huckabee is at 11% and Giuliani is in free fall at 9%. Ron Paul lurks close behind at 7% while Thompson gets 3% - true to his usual form.
The puzzling result in this poll is that undeclared voters (a third of the sample, so not that small a subgroup) report preferring Edwards over Obama 38% to 23%. That is a striking number given that independents are supposed to be Obama's strong-point. So let's not jump to to many conclusions on the basis of one poll but if confirmed this trend could hurt Obama greatly. Though something to think about is what happens to this 38% if (and it's a big if) Edwards loses Iowa and all but drops from the Democratic race. Obama could then be in a position to coalesce some of Edwards's support around him.

Among Republicans, it is remarkable that Romney has maintained himself at the same level for months now. The difference is just who is second to him -- and McCain has surged into a tie based solely on his own rise, fueled by Giuliani's collapse. I don't think any public poll has had Rudy in single-digits here before, but the downward trend is confirmed by all other polls out there. Does Giuliani really hope to get no bad press and survive until Florida if he can't even get in the top three in a Northeastern state in which he looked so strong just a month ago?

  • Rasmussen has McCain on the rise
I rarely report on Rasmussen's daily tracking numbers, but milestones like today's have to be at least quickly mentioned. In the Democratic race, nothing has changed for a while and, if anything, Clinton looks even more solid than she did in the past, leading 42% to 23% for Obama and 16% for Edwards.

But this is the first time since daily polling started that John McCain is on top of the GOP race. Granted, he only gets 17% and that is only one point above Romney and Huckabee's 16% and Giuliani's 15% (Thompson gets 12%), but however insignificant his move upward it is undeniable that McCain has gotten much of his potential back at this point: He is in a strong position in New Hampshire and is being endorsed by newspaper after newspaper. That he has grabbed his first lead of the year in Rasmussen's daily tracking says something about the state of the GOP race -- just as it is very revealing of the fact that it is still anyone's game that there are four candidates within 2%.

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