Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis remained the leader among New Hampshire Democratic voters, despite Gary Hart's re-entry into the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, according to an NBC News poll released this week.
According to the telephone survey, Dukakis has the support of 43% of those contacted after Hart re-entered the race. Hart and Sen. Paul Simon of Illinois each were favored by 16% of the 701 Democrats contacted by NBC between Dec. 18 and 20.
Although Hart has emerged as the leader of the Democratic pack in most national polls taken since he re-entered the campaign on Dec. 15, the NBC New Hampshire poll suggests he has some large obstacles ahead. It was New Hampshire where Hart pulled off the surprise upset of Walter F. Mondale in 1984 that made him a serious contender for the nomination. For 1988, most political analysts say, Hart must make another strong showing in New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary on Feb. 16 if his revived candidacy is to be taken seriously.
Former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt, Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, Sen. Albert Gore Jr. of Tennessee and the Rev. Jesse Jackson remained in the single-digit category in the NBC poll, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points
More than half of the respondents, 53%, said they were not pleased that Hart had re-entered the contest. About one-third, 35%, said they were pleased.