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CNN/Time poll: McCain, Bush in tight races

By Keating Holland/CNN

December 10, 1999
Web posted at: 7:45 p.m. EST (0045 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Arizona Senator John McCain and Texas Governor George W. Bush are running neck-and-neck among potential voters in the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire GOP primary, with McCain holding a four-point lead, according to a new CNN-Time poll. The GOP race is just as tight in McCain's home state, Arizona, where he leads Bush by three points.

On the Democratic side, Bill Bradley and Al Gore are in a close race in New Hampshire, where the former New Jersey senator leads the vice president by a narrow 42 percent to 39 percent margin. That's essentially unchanged since September, when Bradley first began to pull ahead of Gore in the Granite State.

McCain is strongest among older voters and college graduates. In New Hampshire, he also has a substantial lead over Bush among registered independents, who can vote in either primary. Arizona only allows registered Republicans to vote in the GOP race in that state.

Because New Hampshire has an "open primary," much has been made of the possibility that McCain and Bradley are competing for support among independents. In fact, only about one in 10 registered Independents (about 3 percent of all Granite State voters) say there is a good chance they could vote in either party's primary; 40 percent of independents plan to vote in the GOP primary and say there is little or no chance they will vote in the Democratic contest; 20 percent say they definitely plan to vote in the Democratic primary.

McCain has an edge over Bush when it comes to several characteristics, including sincerity, inspiration, and having new ideas. Note that a majority of New Hampshire primary voters say that Bush has those qualities -- but even more say that McCain does. What about last week's debate in New Hampshire? Twenty-seven percent thought McCain did the best job; 19 percent say Bush did, and a third are unsure.

And what about taxes? In fact, 40 percent of New Hampshire Republican voters say that Steve Forbes has the best plan for reducing taxes. But his support remains in single digits.

Among New Hampshire Democrats, Gore's criticism of the effects of Bradley's health care plan on Social Security and on future tax rates may have had some effect -- more New Hampshire Democratic primary voters trust Gore than Bradley on Social Security and taxes despite Bradley's lead in overall support.

More see Bradley as having new ideas and being inspiring, but it is noteworthy that the number who describe both men that way has gone up since September -- a likely effect of the debates the candidates have had, as well as greater familiarity with both of them.

Significantly, although Gore still lags behind Bradley on having new ideas, a majority of Democratic voters in New Hampshire now think the Vice President does have new ideas -- one indication that he may be slowly overcoming his case of "vice-presidentitis."

Why Arizona?

It's easy to understand why we polled in New Hampshire, home of the first-in-the-nation primary. But why should we care about the Grand Canyon State?

First, it is McCain's home state, meaning that Arizona and New Hampshire are the only two states in the country in which McCain is well-known. Second, CNN sponsored a debate in Arizona on Monday (December 6), and this is the first poll to measure the impact of that debate.

The polls were taken December 7-9. The Democratic poll in New Hampshire was taken of 362 potential Democratic primary voters; the Republican New Hampshire poll was taken of 504 potential GOP primary voters there; the Arizona poll was taken of 395 of the state's Republicans.

New Hampshire GOP Primary Voters' Choice for Nominee

McCain37%
Bush33
Forbes9
Keyes 5
Bauer2
Hatch1
Sampling error: +/-4.5% pts.

New Hampshire GOP Primary Voters' Choice for Nominee: Changes since November

 NowNovember
McCain37%37%
Bush3335
Forbes98
Sampling error: +/-4.5% pts

Arizona Republicans' Choice for Nominee

McCain37%
Bush34
Forbes9
Keyes 5
Bauer2
Hatch1

New Hampshire GOP Primary Voters' Choice for Nominee: GOP and independents

 RepublicansIndependents
McCain32%47%
Bush3629
Sampling error: +/-7% pts

New Hampshire GOP Primary Voters' Opinion of Candidates

 McCainBush
Sincere81%72%
Inspiring6951
Has new ideas6253
Sampling error: +/-4.5%

New Hampshire GOP Do the Candidates Understand World Affairs?

 YesNo
McCain70%9%
Bush5430
Sampling error: +/-4.5%

New Hampshire GOP Primary Voters: Who Did the Best Job In the Debate?

McCain27%
Bush19
Others20
Unsure33
Sampling error: +/-4.5% pts

New Hampshire GOP primary voters: Who Has Best Approach To Reducing Taxes?

Forbes40%
Bush19
McCain11
Others9
Unsure33
Sampling error: +/-4.5% pts

Arizona GOP primary voters: Who Has Best Approach To Reducing Taxes?

Forbes37%
Bush18
McCain13
Others7
Unsure25
Sampling error: +/-4.5% pts

New Hampshire Democratic Primary Voters' Choice for Nominee

Bradley42%
Gore39
Sampling error: +/-5% pts

New Hampshire Democratic Primary Voters' Choice for Nominee: Now/September

 NowSeptember
Bradley42%44%
Gore3941
Sampling error: +/-5%

New Hampshire Democratic Primary Voters' Choice for Nominee: Democrats and independents

 DemocratsIndependents
Bradley37%51%
Gore4135
Sampling error: +/-7%

New Hampshire Democratic Primary Voters: Who Do You Trust More on...

 Social SecurityTaxes
Bradley45%43%
Gore3338
Sampling error: +/-5%

New Hampshire Democratic primary voters: Who Did Best Job In Debate?

Gore36%
Bradley29
Unsure35
Sampling error: +/-5% pts

ELECTION 2000

Bush says national campaign strategy may account for lower New Hampshire poll numbers (12-9-99)

Des Moines Register: Candidates will question each other in Iowa debate (12-9-99)

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