Poll: Clinton, Romney have shaky standing
Hillary, Mitt
Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney

CONCORD Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney hold the leads in their New Hampshire primary races, a new poll shows. But the poll, for the Concord Monitor, also finds each would face tougher challenges in the general election than others would.

In the Republican primary, 27 percent backed former Massachusetts governor Romney, while 20 percent picked former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and 16 percent chose Arizona Sen. John McCain. Former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson, who hasn't announced yet, showed 15 percent.

In the Democratic primary, 33 percent chose New York Sen. Clinton, while 25 percent picked Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and 15 percent went with former S.C. senator John Edwards. Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico showed 7 percent.

For the primaries, Maryland-based Research 2000 sampled 400 likely voters in each primary, with a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent.

But in a poll for potential general election match-ups, Clinton and Romney each face tough obstacles.

Neither Romney nor Clinton is the strongest in head-to-head matches with candidates from the other party. And the voter pool as a whole likes each less than they do the runner-up in each race.

The general election results were compiled from 600 likely voters, with a margin of error of plus or minus four percent.

Pollster Del Ali at Research 2000 said Romney "just doesn't seem viable" in the general election. Meanwhile, he proclaimed Clinton's primary strength to be the only "silver lining" for Republicans; looking at the numbers, he said, Republicans may be uniquely competitive against her.

For Romney, 35 percent of voters see him favorably, but 41 percent see him unfavorably, giving him a net favorability rating of negative six. Giuliani's net favorability is plus 14. On the Democratic side, Clinton's net rating is plus 7; Obama's is plus 17.

In head-to-head match-ups with each of the top Democrats, Giuliani does best; Romney fares poorest in every case, never cracking 40 percent.

On the Democratic side, Clinton wins head-to-head match-ups with all of the poll-topping Republicans, but Obama outpaces her by a point in almost every case, a tie considering the margin of error. Clinton also has 40 percent of voters rating her unfavorably, the highest rating in her party.

Ali said the only way he can foresee the Republicans taking New Hampshire in the 2008 general election is if Clinton is the nominee.

For the rest of the Democratic primary field, Sen. Chris Dodd, Conn., picked up 3 percent, while Sen. Joe Biden, Del., and Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Ohio, garnered 2 percent each. Former senator Mike Gravel of Alaska gets 1 percent.

Among Republicans, several candidates got 1 percent: Sen. Sam Brownback, Kan., former governors Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Tommy Thompson of Wisconson, and Representatives Duncan Hunter of California, Tom Tancredo of Colorado and Ron Paul of Texas.