New York Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, who kept fellow Democrats on tenterhooks for weeks before saying he would not seek the party's presidential nomination, still is the top contender with New Hampshire voters, according to poll results released Thursday.
With New Hampshire's primary election less than two months away, 37% of those interviewed said they preferred Cuomo. He drew far more support than any of the six major Democratic candidates whose names will be on the ballot. His closest rival, Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, was preferred by 14%.
The survey, conducted by the American Research Group of Manchester, N.H., sought the opinions of Democrats considered likely to vote on Feb. 18. Former Massachusetts Sen. Paul E. Tsongas and Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey each got 6%. Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin had 2%. Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder and former California Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr. brought up the rear with 1% each, and 33% were undecided.
With Cuomo's name omitted as an option, Clinton and Tsongas each garnered 25%.
Respondents first were asked for which of the six major candidates they planned to vote. Then they were asked: "What if you could write in Cuomo? For whom would you vote?" The six names on the ballot were listed, along with Cuomo's name as a write-in choice.
The telephone poll of 408 registered Democrats was conducted between Dec. 27 and Dec. 30. The margin of error is nearly 5 percentage points in either direction.
Meanwhile, Wilder was considering whether to reduce his efforts in New Hampshire so that he could expand his organizations in Maryland and South Carolina, where he is considered to have a better chance of winning. Recent surveys in those states have shown Wilder in the lead.