ONLINE EXCLUSIVE / 3:13 p.m.
Former Vice President Al Gore is New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's worst nightmare in the nation"s first primary, a new poll shows.
If Mr. Gore got into the 2008 presidential nomination contest, he would edge out Mrs. Clinton in New Hampshire 32 percent to 26 percent and defeat the rest of the Democratic contenders, says a 7NEWS-Suffolk University poll of likely voters.
"Gore is the only Democrat, including Hillary, who can instantly melt the field," said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center, which conducted the survey.
Absent a Gore entry, Mrs. Clinton is the clear front-runner among declared Democratic candidates, with 37 percent, up from 28 percent in the same poll taken in March.
Illinois Sen. Barack Obama is second at 19 percent, followed by both John Edwards and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson at 9 percent.
"The Democratic candidates debate a few weeks ago may have helped Hillary and hurt Barack Obama," Mr. Paleologos said. "Gore takes the most votes from Obama. I think a chunk of Obama voters in New Hampshire are anybody-but-Hillary Democrats."
On the Republican side, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has jumped to first from third, with 26 percent, followed by former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani at 22 percent, according to the June 20-24 poll.
Mr. Romney was at 17 percent in March — four points above the 13 percent received by Arizona Sen. John McCain and undeclared candidate Fred Thompson in the new poll.
The poll also showed that an independent presidential bid by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg would benefit Democrats when New Hampshire voters cast ballots in the general election. Mr. Bloomberg would grab 6 percent to 8 percent, but mainly from Republicans. The survey showed that in six general-election matchups, Democrats gained more support when he was a third-party candidate.
However, Mr. Paleologos said Mr. Bloomberg's potential impact will change as more voters learn about him. He said 50 percent of New Hampshire voters either have never heard of him or don't know enough to have an opinion.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, if he enters, would have "a more muted impact" on the Republican field than Mr. Gore on the Democrats, said Mr. Paleologos. He would win 12 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, taking votes mostly from Mr. Romney.
Sen. John Sununu, New Hampshire Republican, appears to be in trouble, with only 31 percent in the poll saying he deserves re-election and 47 percent saying someone else should get his seat.
The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent overall.