Obama on the rise, Clinton on the decline

Rising Democratic star Barack Obama continues to move up in polls for Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary while one-time frontrunner Hillary Clinton is sliding downward and former second place holder John Edwards is sinking fast.

With two days to go Obama has erased Clinton’s one-time formidable lead and pulled into a statistical dead heat.

“We are seeing clear movement in Obama’s direction and away from Hillary Clinton,” pollster John Zogby told Reuters. “There isn’t much time for her to regroup here.”

Reports from within the Clinto camp say her fundraising has slowed since her third place finish in Iowa with former supporters withholding further contributions until they see what happens in New Hampshire.

“The Clinton campaign is in trouble,” says a Democratic strategist. “It’s moving in the wrong direction.”

Writes Nedra Picker of The Associated Press:

Hillary Rodham Clinton lost the luxury to be polite along with the Iowa caucuses. On the ropes after a third-place finish, Clinton came out swinging against new Democratic front-runner Barack Obama with a vigor she hadn’t shown before in the contest she used to lead. She argued that she is the candidate who deserves the mantle of change and not this newcomer Obama.

“I’m not just running on a promise of change. I’m running on 35 years of change,” she said in Saturday’s Democratic debate, raising her voice and jabbing her finger on the podium to underscore her point.

In return, Clinton got Obama and John Edwards ganging up on her. Edwards apparently decided if he can’t beat Obama in New Hampshire, he’ll try to join him.

“Both of us are powerful voices for change,” Edwards said, rising to Obama’s defense. “And if I might add, we finished first and second in the Iowa caucus, I think in part as a result of that.”

Edwards didn’t mention he only beat Clinton out for second place by three-tenths of a percentage point. But he’s calculated that if he can force Clinton out of the race, he might have a chance of beating Obama in a two-man contest.

Meanwhile, on the Republican side, Reuters reports:

“It’s too close to call on the Republican side,” Zogby said. “Romney is leading among Republican voters, and there has been a little movement for Huckabee but not a lot.”

The rolling poll of 844 likely Democratic voters and 837 likely Republican voters was taken Wednesday through Saturday, before back-to-back debates by candidates in both parties on Saturday night.

New Hampshire’s primary on Tuesday is the next battleground in the state-by-state process of choosing Republican and Democratic candidates for November’s election to replace President George W. Bush.

The state is vital to efforts by Clinton and Romney to revitalize their campaigns after disappointing showings in Iowa.

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