In some ways, the most interesting endorsement news is that 2000 Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Joe Lieberman will be endorsing John McCain today. This doesn’t do much for McCain in Iowa, where the caucuses are dominated by partisans, but it could give him a boost after that. In New Hampshire, independents–who can vote in either primary–were the reason McCain won big in 2000. Until recently, it seemed that he couldn’t count on that again, because all indications were that they would be choosing to vote in the Democratic primary this time. But the latest University of New Hampshire survey suggests they are becoming significantly more interested in the Republican race:
Undeclared voters, often referred to as Independents, can vote in either the Democratic or Republican primary. Throughout most of the past year, almost two-thirds of the undeclared voters said they planned to vote in the Democratic primary. But this has changed in the latest poll where only 54% say they will vote in the Democratic primary and 46% say they will vote in the Republican primary. Currently, Romney holds a slim lead among undeclared voters with 33%, 24% prefer Giuliani, and 22% favor McCain.
Independents are also a major factor in Michigan, another state with an open primary system, and in South Carolina, a state that has no party registration.
UPDATE: I just spoke to Andy Smith, who heads the UNH Survey Center. He says the swing among independents toward voting in the GOP primary is so pronounced that he does not discount the possibility that it is an aberration in their data. They are in the field now, and will be publishing their latest results on Wednesday, which should either confirm that a shift has taken place or that the previous result was a glitch in their polling.