Howard Dean, who once held a 30-point lead over Sen. John Kerry in New Hampshire, is now locked in a statistical tie with the Iowa caucus winner one week before the state’s presidential primary, according to a Reuters/MSNBC Zogby poll released Tuesday.
Dean led Kerry 25 percent to 23 percent in the three-day tracking poll, which began Sunday, the day before Kerry’s stunning win in Iowa in the first contest in the Democratic race to pick a challenger to President Bush. But in Tuesday’s polling, taken after the caucus results were known, the Massachusetts senator actually led Dean by two percentage points after the former Vermont governor finished a distant third in Iowa.
The margin of error for the poll is plus-or-minus 4 percent.
In third place was retired Gen. Wesley Clark at 16 percent, with North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, who finished a surprise second in Iowa, and Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman tied for fourth place at 7 percent.
The poll found 16 percent of likely New Hampshire primary voters are still undecided ahead of the primary, with the number of undecided voters growing during the course of the three days of polling.
“Clark has slid a point a day since Sunday,” pollster John Zogby said. “As Dean drops, undecided jumped to 20 points on Tuesday alone.”
Zogby said the rising number of undecided voters was not unusual, with voters often shifting to undecided first as they rethink their support for a candidate.
The poll of 600 likely primary voters was taken Sunday through Tuesday and has a margin of error of four percentage points. It will continue through Jan. 27, the day of the New Hampshire primary.
Dean led Kerry by 42 to 12 percent in Zogby's December New Hampshire poll, but has seen his lead shrink quickly in recent weeks as he came under relentless attacks from his rivals and as voters re-evaluated the candidates before the caucuses in Iowa.
Kerry, the four-term senator from Massachusetts whose campaign was given up for dead just weeks ago, roared back into the Democratic race and capped his comeback with Monday’s win in Iowa.
He and Edwards, who also received a jolt of energy for his campaign with his surprise second-place showing in Iowa, should benefit from the Iowa results with increased momentum in New Hampshire.
“Stay tuned; there is as much movement here as there was in Iowa,” Zogby said.
A tracking poll combines the results of three consecutive nights of polling, then drops the first night’s results each time a new night is added. It allows pollsters to record shifts in voter sentiment as they happen.
Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich received 2 percent in the poll, with civil rights activist Al Sharpton getting less than 1 percent.