So much for New Hampshire being in former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney’s back yard and being a place he can count on to rack up a huge primary victory. He is now in a virtual tie there with one of his competitors — and it isn’t Herman Cain:
The latest NH Journal poll of likely Republican primary voters conducted by Magellan Strategies shows Romney and Gingrich in a statistical dead heat for the January 10th primary. If the election were held today, Romney would earn 29% of the vote and Gingrich would earn 27%. Texas Congressman Ron Paul continues to show resolve by earning 16%. Herman Cain gets 10%. No other candidate is in double digits.
This is the first time any of NH Journal’s polls have shown anyone candidate even close to Romney. It also shows tremendous movement for Gingrich since NH Journal’s October survey, in which Gingrich was in third place, but at only 10% versus Romney’s 41%.
When asked why people felt Gingrich was moving up in the polls, 44% of respondents cited his depth of knowledge on the issues. Ten percent referred to his strong debate performances while another 6% said they liked that he was challenging the media in those debates. Ten percent referenced his past experience as Speaker of the House.
A close look at the data shows Gingrich is actually leading Romney among certain important subgroups of the electorate. Among self-identified conservative voters, Gingrich beats Romney 34%-27%. Among self-identified tea party voters, he leads Romney 38%-21%.
So again, it is the influence in particular of party conservatives and Tea Part members.
However, Romney has a wide lead over Gingrich among Undeclared voters, who give the former Massachusetts Governor 29% over Paul’s 19% and Gingrich’s 18%. There is also a significant gender gap for both Romney and Gingrich. Romney beats Gingrich 33%-22% among women while Gingrich defeats Romney 32%-24% among men.
And Herman Cain? He’s yesterdaysville:
The once-ascendant candidacy of former pizza magnate Herman Cain is now on the rocks. Cain is stalled out on the ballot and his public image is now upside down (51% U / 39% F). Driving that are recent accusations by former employees that Cain sexually harassed them. Forty-six percent of respondents said the accusations made them less likely to support him. Only 23% said they made it more likely they would support him.
The results cap off a disastrous week for Cain in the Granite State. On Thursday, Cain took heat for cancelling an important editorial board meeting on Thursday with the powerful publisher of the New Hampshire Union Leader Joe McQuaid.
It’s always worth noting that one poll does not a trend make. But Gingrich is now enjoying a slew of polls showing him shooting to the second-in-place of the GOP pack. And since many Republicans could care less what the press says about another GOPer if the GOPer is defended by Fox News, Sean Hannity, et. al, his poll numbers are bound to keep going up. The question is how he’ll increasingly are in polling that puts him up against Barack Obama.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.