Democrats favor Dean by a heavy margin, 44% – 15% over Kerry. Independents give 39% of their support to Dean, with Kerry, Lieberman, and Clark in a three-way tie for 2nd at 9%.
Overall opinion of Dean is high, with a 78% favorable and 12% unfavorable rating. Kerry’s favorable rating is 64%, with a 28% unfavorable. Likely voters in all age groups, all education levels, and all income levels heavily support Dean.
But there’s also some disturbing news for the Dems:
Two in three (66%) likely voters say it is somewhat or very likely that President George W. Bush will be re-elected, regardless of how they intend to vote.
The President’s re-election likelihood numbers have been consistently high all year in New Hampshire, with a low of three in five at any point. Still, 44% say they dislike him as a person, while 39% of the Democrats and Independents in the poll said they like him. From the same group, Bush’s job performance rating is 19% positive, 78% negative in December polling.
Just over two in five (44%) say that Democrats should nominate someone whose political ideology is closest to that of former president Clinton, while 30% say the party should choose someone who is more liberal.
New Hampshire primary voters think it is more important that Democrats nominate a candidate who opposed the war in Iraq (46%) than a candidate who supported it (36%).
I’m no expert in predicting elections – my first vote was cast via absentee ballot in the 1972 Ohio primary for Ed Muskie a week after he dropped out – but I am willing to bet that Bush’s re-election numbers will go down as we get closer to the primaries and as a clear Democratic nominee emerges. Once the focus shifts from the crowd of nine candidates to two and then to one, the comparisons will start to be drawn, money will be spent on ads, and the general electorate will start to pay attention. (Right now more people are wondering what will happen with Ryan and Marisa on The O.C. than where Governor Dean stands on steel tariffs.) Then the real race will begin.
I also find it interesting that “Likely voters in all age groups, all education levels, and all income levels heavily support Dean.” Sort of puts the lie to the Republican charge that Dean appeals only to the “Volvo” crowd.