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Tsongas Leads New Hampshire Democrats' Poll

December 25, 1991| From Times Wire Services

CONCORD, N.H. — The latest poll of New Hampshire voters shows Paul E. Tsongas, a former senator from neighboring Massachusetts, continues to lead the pack of Democratic presidential candidates vying for support in the state's Feb. 18 primary.

Tsongas' closest rivals in the survey were Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton and Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey. Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, generally ranked with Clinton and Kerrey in the top tier of Democratic candidates, scored in single digits in the poll and placed fourth.

The poll also found that while President Bush would defeat any of the Democratic challengers in New Hampshire if the general election were held today, his margin of support over challenger Patrick J. Buchanan among Republicans is less than 2 to 1.

Bush led Buchanan 58% to 30%, with 12% of the Republicans surveyed saying they were undecided.

The poll, the first since New York Gov. Mario M. Cuomo announced last week that he would not seek the Democratic presidential nomination, was commissioned by the Concord Monitor.

The poll was taken between Friday and Sunday among 644 registered New Hampshire voters--312 Democrats and 332 Republicans--likely to cast ballots in the state's first-in-the-nation primary. It has a margin of error of 5.5 percentage points.

Along with Cuomo, Tsongas has been the front runner in several previous polls in New Hampshire, largely on the strength of the name recognition he gained as a Massachusetts senator. His dark-horse strategy for winning the Democratic nomination is premised on scoring a big victory in the New Hampshire primary.

In the current poll, 25% of the Democratic respondents opted for Tsongas, 17% for Clinton and 14% for Kerrey.

Harkin received 8%, followed by former California Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr. with 6% and Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder with 1%.

The poll found 29% of the Democratic respondents said they were undecided.

In theoretical general election matchups, Bush came out ahead against Tsongas, 50%-33%; against Clinton, 50%-32%, and against Kerrey 52%-32%. This portion of the poll had an error margin of 3.5 percentage points.

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