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Poll: Clinton widens lead in New Hampshire

  • Story Highlights
  • Clinton registered 43 percent in the poll, 23 points more than Obama
  • Numbers may mean Clinton getting more popular as primary approaches
  • Edwards is at 12 percent in New Hampshire, Richardson at 6
  • Poll says Clinton's likability trails that of Obama, Edwards
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(CNN) -- Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has significantly increased her lead over rival Barack Obama in the crucial early voting state of New Hampshire, according to a CNN/WMUR poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire released Tuesday.

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Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton, shown at an August forum, each saw a 7-point change in a poll.

The New York Democrat registered 43 percent in the latest poll, 23 points more than Obama, an Illinois senator. In a similar poll conducted in July, only 9 points separated the candidates, with Clinton then at 36 percent and Obama at 27 percent.

"The seven-point change for both candidates is within the poll's sampling error, but may indicate growing support for Clinton as the primary approaches," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said.

Meanwhile, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards stands at 12 percent in the latest poll, three points higher than July. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is at 6 percentage points, 5 points lower than the last survey from CNN and WMUR. See the full results

In more good news for Clinton, 54 percent of New Hampshire Democrats said Clinton has the best chance of beating the Republican nominee in the general election -- compared with only 37 percent who thought that in the July survey.

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"There is no doubt that Democratic primary voters in the Granite State see her as the most electable candidate," Holland said.

"Hillary emerges as the candidate with the most experience [and] the most potential for becoming president. For no particular reason, Obama hasn't made the case for voters to go to him instead of Hillary," Paul Emanuel of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics told CNN.

But it's not all good news for Clinton. Only 15 percent of Granite Staters rank her most likeable -- significantly behind Obama and Edwards.

While Clinton held a substantial lead, the poll found only one in six New Hampshire voters say they have definitely settled on a candidate in the first presidential primary of 2008 -- and some of the lesser-known candidates are beginning to make a name for themselves.

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Richardson's favorable rating has jumped 26 points since April to 53 percent; Delaware Sen. Joe Biden's favorability is up 15 points to 45 percent; Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd gained 19 points to rise to a 40 percent favorable rating; and Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich's favorable rating has also gone up 9 points, to 31 percent. Only former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel has not seen a big change in his favorable rating.

The poll, conducted September 17-24, surveyed 307 New Hampshire residents who say they will vote in the state's Democratic presidential primary. It carries a margin of error of plus or minus 5.5 percentage points. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Keating Holland and Alexander Mooney contributed to this report.

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