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WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Iowa 'Entrance Poll' Offers N.H. Clues

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By Jennifer Agiesta and Jon Cohen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, January 5, 2008

Do the outcomes of the Iowa caucuses offer clues to what will happen in Tuesday's New Hampshire primary? A look at the "entrance poll" taken Thursday night in the Hawkeye State offered five things to watch for next week:

1 Independents matter.

Independents were a small but powerful force in the caucuses of both parties, and an even higher percentage will vote in New Hampshire.

On the Democratic side, independents made up 20 percent of caucusgoers and contributed heavily to Sen. Barack Obama's victory margin. Independents made up 13 percent of the GOP voters in Iowa and boosted Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) into the double digits.

In 2000, the last time both parties held contested primaries in New Hampshire, about four in 10 voters called themselves independents. McCain won the GOP primary that year by prevailing among independents, while Republicans went for George W. Bush.

Unaffiliated voters in New Hampshire can choose to participate in either party's primary, and the fortunes of Obama and McCain may hinge on which way independents break. Washington Post-ABC News polling last month found that more than six in 10 of the state's independents planned to vote in the Democratic primary.

2 New Hampshire Democrats want change, too.

In Iowa, "change" was a key factor in the Democratic caucuses, and a majority of likely New Hampshire primary voters also think that a new direction and new ideas are more important in a candidate than strength and experience, according to the December Post-ABC News poll.

Obama (Ill.) dominated his rivals among "change voters," garnering the support of 51 percent in this group. Former senator John Edwards (N.C.) got 20 percent and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) received 19 percent.


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