Dole trails Forbes in New Hampshire, poll suggests

THE US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS
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The Independent Online
Bob Dole's faltering presidential campaign took another blow yesterday with an opinion poll showing he had been overtaken in New Hampshire by the upstart media magnate Steve Forbes - the first time Senator Dole has been knocked out of the lead in the state that holds the crucial first primary in just three weeks.

The survey, conducted by the Pew Research Center among 543 Republicans and independents, puts Mr Forbes ahead by 29 to 24 per cent, with the three other major candidates - Phil Gramm, Lamar Alexander and Pat Buchanan - all bunched around 10 per cent.

Although the five-point margin is in line with the poll's scientific margin of error, the result is fresh evidence of how the Senate Majority Leader's support is crumbling, pounded by Mr Forbes' relentless negative advertising and universal criticism of his lacklustre response to President Clinton's State of the Union address.

Just a month ago, Mr Dole was running consistently at around 40 per cent in both New Hampshire and Iowa (whose caucuses kick off the presidential season on 12 February), with his rivals in single figures.

Especially worrying for the Dole camp, Mr Forbes did particularly well among independent voters in the Pew poll, outscoring him by two to one and underlining Mr Dole's potential lack of appeal among centrist voters who, as always, will decide matters in 1996.

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