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Bradley, McCain Hold N.H. Lead

A new poll finds Bill Bradley and John McCain would win the New Hampshire presidential primaries if they were held today, but even their supporters believe they are underdogs who will not win their party nominations.

The Quinnipiac College Poll released Thursday gives Bradley a 47 percent to 37 percent lead over Vice President Al Gore among likely voters in the Democratic primary.

But 64 percent of those voters expect Gore to win the Democratic nomination, compared to 18 percent who think Bradley can win in enough other states to become the party's candidate in the general election.

Likewise, the poll finds McCain has a 37 percent to 28 percent lead over Texas Gov. George W. Bush among likely voters in the Republican primary.

But 65 percent believe Bush will be the GOP's candidate in the general election, compared to 11 percent who expect McCain to be the nominee.

"Whatever happens in New Hampshire, Democratic primary voters are betting more than 3-to-1 that Vice President Gore gets the Democratic nomination," said pollster Maurice Carroll.

"And once again, New Hampshire Republican primary voters say overwhelmingly that Bush will be the GOP nominee," he said. "When they look into the crystal ball, they see McCain way behind."

McCain, an Arizona senator, is way behind Bush nationally in fund-raising. Bush also has a national campaign organization and the endorsements of most party officials and elected politicians.

McCain has focused on a few early primary states that he hopes will give him the momentum he needs to overcome Bush's overwhelming organizational advantage.

But in New Hampshire, Bush is hurting. His support has dropped since the last Quinnipiac College poll Dec. 6 from 37 percent to 28 percent, with some of those voters moving into the "undecided" category.

The Quinnipiac College Polling Institute, based in Hamden, Conn., conducted the poll from Jan. 7-11. The sample included 567 Republicans and independents who plan to vote in the GOP primary, and 416 likely Democratic voters. The margin of error in the Republican sample was plus or minus 4 percentage points; for Democrats it was 5 percentage points.

© 2000 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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