Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has surged among Republican voters in New Hampshire, and Rick Perry is a distant fourth, according to a Suffolk University/7NEWS (WHDH TV) poll of likely voters in New Hampshire’s GOP presidential primary.
Romney has opened up a 27-point lead over his nearest rival in New Hampshire, and pundits may have to rethink predictions of a two-man GOP race between Romney and Perry.
Front-runners gaining on pack
Romney (41 percent) gained 5 points since June, followed by Ron Paul (14 percent), and Jon Huntsman (10 percent). Huntsman and Paul gained 6 percent each since the last poll.
The single-digit tier consisted of Perry (8 percent), Sarah Palin (6 percent), Michele Bachmann (5 percent), and Newt Gingrich (4 percent), while Rick Santorum and Buddy Roemer each received 1 percent. Eleven percent of likely New Hampshire GOP primary voters were undecided.
“Mitt Romney is saying ‘get out of my back yard’ and making New Hampshire his strong firewall despite showing some weakness in the other states’ early primaries,” said David Paleologos, director of Suffolk University’s Political Research Center. “The anti-Romney candidate at this point could be either Ron Paul, who has polled consistently over the past year, or Jon Huntsman, whose numbers are really growing in the Granite State.”
Solid numbers for Romney
In the event that their first choice dropped out of the Republican primary, those polled named Romney (21 percent) over Perry (20 percent) as their “second choice.” Paul received 9 percent as a second choice.
“Romney’s added strength in the second-choice question reduces the probability that any other candidate will be able to mobilize and capture all of the non-Romney voters as well as the undecided voters,” said Paleologos. “Romney is not only the overwhelming first choice, but he also has a competitive edge as a fallback option among voters who support other candidates.”
Romney’s numbers were even better than 41 percent among the most reliable Republican voters: He was the choice of 44 percent of those “very likely” to vote, 48 percent of self-identified conservatives and 50 percent of voters in Hillsborough and Rockingham counties, the two largest counties in New Hampshire, which border Massachusetts.
Romney was viewed favorably by 69 percent of respondents, in contrast to several candidates whose unfavorable ratings outweighed their favorable quotient. These included Palin (56 percent unfavorable), Gingrich (52 percent) and Bachmann (45 percent).
Tea Party & conservatism
More than two-thirds (68 percent) of likely GOP voters said they were somewhat or very satisfied with the Republican field of candidates, while 30 percent were either somewhat or very dissatisfied.
In other findings, the Suffolk University survey showed that 48 percent of those polled also identified themselves as being aligned with Tea Party ideals, and 49 percent described themselves as conservative. Each of these results was lower by about 4 points compared to the June poll.
President Barack Obama performed poorly among likely Republican Primary voters, with a 22 percent favorable rating, down 3 points since June and 14 points since early May. Yet 22 percent of respondents also said they expect Obama will win reelection, despite their personal presidential choice.
The Republican Primary voters polled said that the top issues facing the country are jobs and the economy (57 percent), up 11 points since June, and reducing the national debt (17 percent). Respondents opposed raising taxes to help reduce the debt (57 percent vs. 38 percent); however this was a much closer margin than in June (67 percent vs. 28 percent).
A majority of respondents felt the health care bill passed by Democrats last year should be repealed (55 percent) or modified (30 percent).
The statewide survey of 400 likely voters in New Hampshire’s Republican Presidential Primary was conducted September 18-20, 2011, using live telephone interviews. The margin of error is +/-4.9 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. Marginals and full cross-tabulation data will be posted at 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, September 21, 2011, on the Suffolk University Political Research Center Web site. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310.