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Gore & McCain Set N.H. Pace

Registered New Hampshire voters who say they will definitely vote in the Democratic primary favor Vice President Al Gore over former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley 47 percent to 39 percent, according to a new CBS News poll. Many previous polls have shown Bradley in the lead.

On the GOP side, Arizona Senator John McCain leads Texas Gov. George W. Bush, 39 percent to 33 percent. Steve Forbes gets 12 percent.

The results are probably worse for Bradley than they appear at first glance, reports CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer, because there's every indication that Gore will beat him handily in the upcoming Iowa caucuses as well.

If that happens, and then Gore wins in New Hampshire, it's bound to slow whatever momentum Bradley had. But it probably doesn't mean the end of the road for Bradley because he has the money to hang around until the big state primaries in the first part of March.

The results on the Republican side offer no real surprises. McCain is running a wonderful campaign against a front-runner with a ton of money, but unlike Bradley, he's running it on a shoestring. He's got to win everything he enters to raise the money to get to the next stop.

Even if McCain wins New Hampshire, he's got to win the next one in South Carolina or he's finished. And right now he's way behind there.

CBS News Correspondent Bill Whitaker reports there's a key block of voters who could play a decisive role in New Hampshire, as well as some 30 other states.

Here, voters can register as Democrats, Republicans or undeclared. This year, undeclared voters are at a record high: 275,000 or 37 percent.

Sam and Mary Rosen are typical of the state's Independent voters.

Mary says she and her husband are "Democrats mostly. Although we could be swayed." She says they went to see Republican John McCain and liked him. "Well, we really are Independents."

The new CBS News poll shows Independents are looking for straight talk. Sixty-four percent say maverick Republican McCain says what he really believes and not what he thinks people want to hear, compared to 28 percent for Gov. Bush.

And Bradley outscores Gore 51 to 43 percent. The question is, which party outsider will Independents choose?

"We have many differences," says Bradley. "I respect John a lot. But I don't think we are competing for the same voters."

But this new poll shows Bradley may need to rethink that.

New Hampshire is one of four early primaries where Independents play a crucial role. And this Granite State may be on the verge of sending the first message: that being the party favorite doesn't mean victory is set in stone.

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