With little time remaining before voters choose their candidates in one of the most important primary races in the US, Barack Obama has taken a sizable lead over Hillary Clinton in a new USA Today/Gallup New Hampshire poll.

On the Republican side, John McCain maintains a small lead over Mitt Romney, with Iowa caucus winner Mike Huckabee a distant third.

In mid-December, the New Hampshire primary race seemed neck and neck with Obama and Clinton both holding 32 percent among potential voters.

Now, with the primary looming on the horizon, Obama has surged ahead in the USA Today/Gallup poll to take a significant 13 percent lead over Clinton.

Following a strong win in the Iowa caucuses, Illinois Senator Barack Obama now holds 41 percent in the New Hampshire poll.

New York Senator Hillary Clinton places in second with 28 percent and former Senator John Edwards trails in third with 19 percent.

Bill Richardson, a virtual non-contender in the state according to the poll, languishes in fourth with just 6 percent.

The USA Today/Gallup poll was conducted over the past weekend and counted 776 potential Republican voters and 778 potential Democratic voters.

The poll results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percent.

Obama also now holds the lead in the new CNN-WMUR poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire, beating rival Clinton by 10 points at 39 percent to 29 percent.

A previous poll showed Obama and Clinton in a tie at 33 percent.

John Edwards fell to 16 percent, coming in third, with New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson in fourth with seven percent and Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich fifth with only two percent.

Former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel achieved less than one half of 1 percent among likely voters.

Among Republican candidates in the USA Today/Gallup poll, Arizona Senator John McCain maintains a small lead over former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney with 34 percent to Romney’s 30 percent.

Former Arkansas Governor and Baptist minister Mike Huckabee, who won a spectacular victory in the Iowa caucuses, falls well short of the two leaders with only 13 percent.

Ron Paul and Rudy Giuliani are in a virtual tie in fourth at 8 percent each.

In the CNN-WMUR Poll, John McCain leads in New Hampshire with 32 percent. Mitt Romney follows in second with 26 percent. Mike Huckabee passed competitor Rudy Giuliani after the Iowa caucuses, putting him in third place with 14 percent over the former New York Mayor with 11 percent.

Texas congressman Ron Paul follows at 10 percent, with California Representative Duncan Hunter and former Senator Fred Thompson of Tennessee tied at 1 percent.

“The Iowa caucus results have convinced growing numbers of Granite State voters that Obama can really go all the way,” CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said.

“In December, 45 percent thought Clinton had the best chance of beating the GOP nominee.

“But in Saturday’s poll, Clinton and Obama were tied on that measure, and now Obama has a 42 percent to 31 percent edge over Clinton on electability.”

In a strong turn, voters now say they believe Obama now stands the best chance at winning the presidency in November, compared to the opinion pre-Iowa that Clinton had the best potential to secure the win.

The CNN-WMUR poll gives Obama a 42 to 31 percent lead in ‘electability’ over Clinton. According to the Washington Post, Obama is also now pulling nearly as much support among women as Clinton.

Ann Turner © 2007 GayWired.com; All Rights Reserved.