A new New Hampshire poll has good news for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, not-so-good-news for former House Speaker New Gingrich and good news for Rep. Ron Paul: Romney is ahead and Paul is rising:
Newt Gingrich’s surge has slowed and Ron Paul has gained momentum, but Mitt Romney remains the clear front-runner in New Hampshire with a little more than two weeks until the nation’s first primary, according to a new Boston Globe poll.
Romney has the support of 39 percent of the state’s likely Republican voters, a drop of 3 percentage points since last month but a strong indication he is weathering Gingrich’s national comeback in a state vital to his campaign.
In the closely watched contest for second place, Gingrich and Paul are tied with 17 percent each, just ahead of Jon Huntsman, who has the support of 11 percent of likely Republican voters.
But as the race hurtles toward the Jan. 10 primary, Paul has been gaining the most in New Hampshire. His support has risen by 5 percentage points since November, while Huntsman has picked up 3 percentage points in the last month and Gingrich has gained 2.
The momentum for Paul raises the prospect that he, not Gingrich, could emerge as the strongest early challenger to Romney if the Texas congressman can hold on to his lead in Iowa and capture second place in New Hampshire.
The remainder of the Republican field remains largely sidelined in New Hampshire. Rick Santorum is in fourth place, with support from 3 percent of the state’s likely Republican voters, followed by Michele Bachmann at 2 percent and Rick Perry at 1 percent.
This is one reason why it’s important for Paul to deal with issue of those newsletters under his name that had racist and political wacky content. It will hurt him during a year when he seems on the verge of breaking through to becoming a major Republican Presidential wannabe. A problem for Paul: unless something new comes out about Gingrich, the media and his foes have already raised issues about him. The more prominent Paul becomes, the greater the INTENSE scrutiny that he has not undergone before will become.
(NOTE: An earlier version of this said “Former House Speaker Mitt Romney” in the first sentence, a typing error. TMV regrets the error.)
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.