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Polls: Tight race in New Hampshire; Bush well ahead in South Carolina

Texas governor holds large South Carolina lead

By Keating Holland/CNN

November 26, 1999
Web posted at: 8:39 p.m. EST (0139 GMT)

Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) and Texas Gov. George W. Bush are running neck-and-neck among potential voters in the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire GOP primary, according to a new CNN/Time poll, but McCain fares less well among potential GOP primary voters in South Carolina -- likely to be the next big test after New Hampshire.

In South Carolina, Bush currently holds a 62 percent-15 percent lead over McCain, although some of that lead may be due to familiarity with the two candidates. More than a third of the South Carolina GOP electorate is unfamiliar with McCain; only 7 percent are unfamiliar with Bush.

graphic

In New Hampshire, by contrast, McCain is much better known, and currently much better liked than Bush -- one key reason he is doing well in the Granite State.

The surveys were taken of 504 potential Republican primary voters in New Hampshire and 508 potential Republican voters in South Carolina from November 19-23.

What do New Hampshire GOP primary voters like about McCain? 78 percent say he is sincere (compared to 68 percent who say that about Bush). 64 percent say he is inspiring; only a bare majority feel that way about the Texas governor. And a majority say that Bush is a typical politician; a majority say that McCain is not a typical politician.

Put it all together, and McCain has a 40 percent-29 percent lead among older Granite State voters but loses younger voters to Bush. But note this: McCain's lead is due to his tremendous popularity among independents, who currently give him a 46 percent-27 percent advantage over Bush. Among Republicans, Bush holds a 38 percent-33 percent lead.

Why South Carolina?

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 Palmetto State? Because it is one of the first GOP tests after New Hampshire, and John McCain has poured a lot of time and resources into that state. It is widely assumed that if McCain has any chance of winning the nomination, he must do well in New Hampshire and then parlay that into a victory in South Carolina.

South Carolina was crucial to George H. Bush in 1988 and Bob Dole in 1996; both were able to survive early stumbles by scoring convincing wins there. Also, not insignficantly, this is the first poll done in South Carolina.

New Hampshire GOP primary voters' choice for nominee

McCain37%
Bush35
Forbes8
Keyes3
Bauer2
Hatch-
Sampling error: +/-4.5% pts

South Carolina GOP primary voters' choice for nominee

Bush62%
McCain15
Forbes5
Keyes2
Bauer2
Hatch-
Sampling error: +/-4.5% pts

New Hampshire GOP primary voters' choice for nominee: Republicans and independents

 RepublicansIndependents
McCain33%46%
Bush3827
Sampling error: +/-5% pts

New Hampshire GOP primary voters' choice for nominee: Republicans and independents

 Under 50Over 50
McCain32%42%
Bush4129
Sampling error: +/-5% pts

New Hampshire GOP primary voters' choice for nominee: men and women

 MenWomen
McCain38%35%
Bush3633
Sampling error: +/-6% pts

New Hampshire GOP primary voters' opinion of McCain

Favorable74%
Unfavorable7
Unfamiliar19
Sampling error: +/-4.5% pts

South Carolina GOP primary voters' opinion of McCain

Favorable59%
Unfavorable9
Unfamiliar35
Sampling error: +/-4.5% pts

New Hampshire GOP primary voters' opinion of candidates

 McCainBush
Favorable74%68%
Unfavorable722
Unfamiliar1910
Sampling error: +/-4.5% pts

New Hampshire GOP primary voters' opinion of candidates: Details

 McCainBush
Sincere78%68%
Inspiring6451
Not a typical5140
politician
Sampling error: +/-4.5% pts

New Hampshire GOP primary voters: Do the candidates understand world affairs?

 YesNo
McCain71%8%
Bush5430
Sampling error: +/-4.5% pts

New Hampshire GOP primary voters: Are the candidates typical politicians?

 YesNo
McCain32%51%
Bush5140
Sampling error: +/-4.5% pts

New Hampshire GOP primary voters: Are the candidates sincere?

 YesNo
McCain78%6%
Bush6821
Sampling error: +/-4.5% pts

New Hampshire GOP primary voters: Are the candidates inspiring?

 YesNo
McCain64%18%
Bush5137
Sampling error: +/-4.5% pts

New Hampshire GOP primary voters: Do the candidates have strong moral character?

 YesNo
McCain76%6%
Bush7313
Sampling error: +/-4.5% pts

New Hampshire GOP primary voters: Do the candidates understand nation's problems?

 YesNo
McCain73%9%
Bush6920
Sampling error: +/-4.5% pts

New Hampshire GOP primary voters: Do the candidates have the right temperament?

 YesNo
McCain66%13%
Bush6719
Sampling error: +/-4.5% pts

ELECTION 2000

GOP presidential candidates debate without Bush -- again (11-22-99)

Buchanan proposes talks with Iran, Iraq (11-22-99)

Des Moines Register: Bauer says polls mean nothing (11-22-99)

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