- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 28, 2004

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Sen. John Kerry scored big among New Hampshire Democratic primary voters most concerned about beating President Bush in November, according to an Associated Press exit poll.

The Massachusetts Democrat far outdistanced former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean among voters who described themselves as moderates, the largest ideological group in yesterday’s contest, the poll found.

Mr. Dean edged out Mr. Kerry among voters angry with the Bush administration and most opposed to the war in Iraq, but not by enough to undo the damage apparently caused by his screaming speech after he placed third in Iowa a week ago.

Half of yesterday’s Democratic primary voters said they had made up their minds in the last week. Mr. Kerry won 51 percent of those who decided in the days immediately after Iowa, to just 15 percent for Mr. Dean.

But Mr. Dean rebounded, running about even with Mr. Kerry among those who settled on a choice in the last three days, according to the poll of 1,848 voters conducted for the AP and television networks by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International. Results were subject to sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, higher for subgroups.

The race shifted dramatically in the past month. Among those who made up their minds before then, Mr. Dean held a 3-2 lead over Mr. Kerry.

Dean voter Gene White of Swanzey said he liked Mr. Dean’s spontaneity and was unfazed by his rambunctious speech in Iowa. “Every time I saw it, I started to get comfortable with it. I appreciate his passion,” Mr. White said.

Among the one-third of New Hampshire primary voters who said Mr. Dean does not have a presidential temperament, half voted for Mr. Kerry, about 20 percent favored Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina and nearly all the rest split among Wesley Clark, a retired Army general, and Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.

Among the 44 percent of exit-poll respondents who called themselves moderate, Mr. Kerry won 42 percent to just 18 percent for Mr. Dean. Mr. Dean and Mr. Kerry split those who called themselves somewhat liberal. Mr. Dean beat Mr. Kerry by 10 points among the very liberal, but only 15 percent described themselves that way.

In the battle for third place, Mr. Edwards won support for having a positive message. Mr. Clark drew some strength from his opposition to the Iraq war although he did no better among households with military veterans than those without.

Only half the voters were registered Democrats — independents can vote in either party’s primary in New Hampshire.

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