Before the results of the Iowa caucuses had been counted, Howard Dean (search) held a modest lead over John Kerry (search) and Wesley Clark (search) in the race for the Democratic nomination in New Hampshire.

The findings are based on the 2004 New Hampshire Primary Tracking Poll, conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center. The survey — sponsored by Fox News Channel, WCVB-TV Boston, and WMUR-TV Manchester — is based on interviews taken between Jan. 17-19 from 340 likely New Hampshire primary voters. The potential sampling of error for the survey is plus or minus 5 percent.

Before they had heard the news that Kerry had won a stunning victory in Iowa, New Hampshire Democrats still preferred Dean over Kerry, Clark and the other Democratic challengers. Thirty-three percent of likely Democratic primary voters preferred Dean; 24 percent preferred Kerry; 18 percent favored Clark; 8 percent supported John Edwards (search); 5 percent supported Joe Lieberman (search); 3 percent supported Dick Gephardt (search), who subsequently dropped out of the race; 3 percent preferred Dennis Kucinich (search), and less than 1 percent supported other candidates. Six percent of likely Democratic primary voters remained undecided.

Kerry’s strategy to campaign hard in Iowa appears to have paid off as support for Kerry has risen in New Hampshire as it rose in Iowa. Clark’s decision to bypass Iowa also looks like a wise choice as he is very close to Kerry for second place in the Granite State. Dean, while still leading, must find a way to recover from his surprising third place finish in Iowa.

Strength of Support

The race in New Hampshire is still very fluid. Only 51 percent of likely Democratic primary voters said they would definitely support their candidate. Clark enjoys the firmest support among the top three candidates — 63 percent of Clark supporters said they would definitely vote for him compared with 54 percent of Dean supporters and 48 percent of Kerry supporters. When voters were asked who their second choice would be, they were split between Clark at 23 percent, Kerry at 15 percent, Dean at 14 percent, Edwards at 14 percent and Lieberman at 10 percent.

Subgroup Analysis

Kerry led Dean among registered Democrats by a 31 percent to 27 percent margin, while Dean led among undeclared, or independent, voters who will vote in the Democratic primary by 33 percent to 20 percent over Kerry. This should be helpful to Kerry as registered Democrats have historically voted at higher rates than independents.

Dean runs strongest among young voters, newcomers to New Hampshire and those who have lived in New Hampshire between 11 and 20 years and among residents of the Connecticut valley. Dean also did well among voters strongly opposed to the U.S. war in Iraq. Kerry’s strongest support comes from strong Democrats and older voters. Support for Clark is balanced across political and demographic groups.

New Hampshire Democratic Primary: