Well, here it is – 3 a.m. on the day before the first-in-the-nation primary, as we sweep the cobwebs from our heads and ponder what’s about to happen in the Granite State. I’m being extra careful with my broom today after I idiotically typed 1960 instead of 1952 for the last non-incumbent general election (sleep-deprivation can be REALLY frightening sometimes). My apologies for that – I didn’t even realize what I had written until a few hours later…
While all of our upcoming interviews with the candidates and reports from our fine correspondents will delve into the issues, it’s interesting to take a moment here to look at what the polls are telling us and how that might affect the outcome. New Hampshire is fiercely independent, and voters insist what happens elsewhere doesn’t matter much in New England. That said, Barack Obama does appear to have enjoyed a bounce from his decisive victory in Iowa – now leading Hillary Clinton by 10 points. She still enjoys a comfortable advantage in the area of experience, but 67 percent of likely Democratic voters here say what matters most is the ability to bring about change – the same resounding message that Iowa voters sent on Thursday.
On the Republican side, John McCain benefits most from experience and has surged in the polls here, more than doubling his numbers from where he was 6 months ago. Will lightning strike twice for McCain in New Hampshire? Mike Huckabee and Rudy Giuliani have traded places in our latest poll – Huckabee does not appear to be in a position to win – even he has said that McCain will probably take it – but a strong showing here could set him up well for South Carolina and Florida, where his support is strong.
There’s also another interesting story here – Ron Paul. A growing number of independents in New Hampshire (and they account for about 40 percent of the electorate) say they’ll vote Republican. They account for much of McCain’s increase, but what might that also mean for Ron Paul? He’s currently polling fifth, but a surge of independents could propel him to a good showing here. Makes you wonder why he was excluded from last night’s debate on Fox.
The big stories to watch tomorrow night – what happens to Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney? They were the names to beat here, and things are looking (at least according to the polls) a little shaky. Of course, there’s the possibility that the polls are entirely wrong, though New Hampshire is easier to read than Iowa because of the nature of the primary.
Another win by Barack Obama could begin to clarify the race on the Democratic side – while a win from McCain could make things even more unpredictable for the Republicans.
–CNN American Morning Anchor John Roberts
Making news today:
Mark Penn, Clinton's chief strategist, spent his Saturday looking for the Obama bounce. Yesterday, it found him.
Barack Obama has a 10-point edge over Hillary Clinton among likely Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire in the CNN/WMUR poll released Sunday afternoon, with 39 percent support to Clinton’s 29 percent. John Edwards has slipped to 16 percent. The apparent Obama surge seems to be sapping support from Clinton and Edwards, both down several points from the last CNN poll.
The electability issue is now officially a non-starter for the Clinton campaign: 42 percent of those primary voters now say Obama has the best chance of beating the Republican nominee. Even more troubling for the New York senator, two out of three Democrats – a new high - now say the ability to bring change is more important than experience.
That isn’t true on the Republican side, where part of John McCain’s edge over rival Mitt Romney arises from the fact that 40 percent of Granite State GOP voters say he’s got the right experience to be president, as opposed to 26 percent for the former Massachusetts governor. McCain now leads Romney among primary voters, 32 to 26 percent. Mike Huckabee, Rudy Giuliani and Ron Paul follow at 14, 11, and 10 percent.
One of the other major factors in McCain’s rise is the growing numbers of independents who now say they’ll be voting in the Republican primary. It’s a development that should have been bad news for Obama, but isn’t – a result that underscores Obama’s new strength.
If there’s a secret to stemming his momentum here, his opponents have just a day left to find it.
– CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand
Compiled by Jonathan Helman
CNN Washington Bureau
NY Times: Retracing Steps, McCain Is Feeling Rejuvenated
Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign wheeled out a confetti gun on Saturday in Peterborough, N.H. to boom a festive end to his 100th town-hall-style meeting. It was the same place he began his New Hampshire primary campaign of 2000.
Washington Post: GOP Doubts, Fears 'Post-Partisan' Obama
Exploiting a deep well of voter revulsion over partisan gridlock in Washington, Sen. Barack Obama is promising to do something that has not been done in modern U.S. politics: unite a coalition of Democrats, Republicans and independents behind an agenda of sweeping change.
Boston Globe: Clock ticking in N.H., candidates target undecided
With campaign crowds swelling and time running out before Tuesday's New Hampshire primary, presidential contenders sought yesterday to score with the state's elusive undecided voters – and none more so than Mitt Romney, who cast himself as an agent of change and portrayed his chief rival, John McCain, as an ossified creature of Washington.
Washington Post: Trailing in N.H. Polling, Clinton Takes More Control of Campaign
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, slipping further behind her chief rival in the Democratic primary here, has taken direct control over her strategy and message as she scrambles to block the ascent of Sen. Barack Obama.
Union Leader: Romney goes on the attack
After being attacked relentlessly by several of his rivals on Saturday night, a more aggressive Mitt Romney returned fire last night as he fought for his political life during a final pre-primary showdown.
Compiled by Lauren Kornreich, CNN Washington Bureau
* Hillary Clinton speaks with undecided voters in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Later, she attends "Time to Pick a President" events in Dover, Salem and Manchester.
* John Edwards, along with his wife Elizabeth, kicks off his 36-hour campaign trail marathon with a visit to his campaign office in Berlin, New Hampshire. The couple then hold Graniteroots events in Berlin and Littleton, have breakfast with voters in Claremont, hold a town hall meeting in Lakeport, and attend a house party featuring Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon in Bedford. Then Robbins and Sarandon campaign with Edwards in Hampton and Dover. At night, John and Elizabeth Edwards hold Graniteroots events in Somersworth, Rochester and Durham.
* Rudy Giuliani visits with supporters in Nashua, and holds town hall meetings in Hudson, Merrimack, and Derry, New Hampshire.
* Mike Huckabee, along with Chuck Norris, attend a breakfast meet & greet in Mason, attend the launch of the Huckaburger and make a campaign stop at Bread & Chocolate in Concord, and attend a rally in Rochester.
* John McCain attends "The Mac is Back" rallies & media Availabilities in Nashua, Keene, Hanover, Concord, Manchester, Exeter, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
* Barack Obama attends a rally in Claremont, meets with voters in Lebanon, and attends a rally in Rochester.
* Bill Richardson does a drop-in at a Dunkin Donuts in Manchester, has a tour and town hall meeting in Durham, a drop-in at Brickstones at the Mill in Rochester, and downtown Portsmouth drop-ins, holds a "Final Presidential Job Interview" in Stratham and Exeter, has a drop-in in Manchester, and attends "Get Out the Vote Roundups" in Manchester and Portsmouth.
* Mitt Romney meets with employees in Nashua, meets with voters in Derry, meets with employees in Stratham, attends a Rotary Club luncheon in Nashua, holds "Ask Mitt Anything" town halls in Salem and Bedford, and meets with volunteers at campaign headquarters in Manchester.
* Bill Clinton meets with undecided voters in Henniker, New Hampshire, attends a "Time to Pick a President" event in Peterborough, walks through downtown Keene, attends "Time to Pick a President" events in Claremont and Hanover, stops by Dartmouth College in Hanover, and attends a "Time to Pick a President" rally with Hillary Clinton in Manchester.
* Michelle Obama attends a luncheon in North Conway, New Hampshire.
* The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook:
* The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook: