President Obama continues to hold a substantial lead over Mitt Romney in New Hampshire, despite the presumptive Republican nominee’s heavy campaigning in the state.
The WMUR/Granite State Poll shows Obama with a nine-point lead over Romney, pulling more than half — 51 percent — of New Hampshire voters. Romney trails as the choice of 42 percent of those surveyed.
Romney plans to return to the state Tuesday night for a prime-time address in which he is expected to pivot his campaign to a general election showdown with President Obama. But despite owning a house in the state, governing neighbor Massachusetts, and campaigning there heavily to secure a win in January’s primary, the presumptive GOP nominee has made little headway against the president.
Since December, Romney shows only a single percentage point improvement in the poll, and the governor is down substantially from the eight-point lead Romney posted over Obama last October.
“Granted, we only have four electoral votes, but they are important electoral votes,” pollster Andy Smith of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center told WMUR.
Still, there are positive signs for Romney. Half of those surveyed said they liked the job Obama was doing, versus 47 percent that said they disapproved – down slightly from a net eight point advantage for Obama in February.
I was in New Hampshire in late October on a non-blogging mission. But it was quite striking talking to the people who I met there — most of whom had been Republicans. Some had become independents because they were not pleased with the Twilight Zone like political rhetoric coming from many of the candidates running in the Republican Presidential primaries. At least one was someone who had run for office as a Republican in New England, had been a lifelong Republican partisan and was turned off by some of his party’s polemics. Several people said they had liked Mitt Romney in his old incarnation — as a moderate Republican from the neighboring state of Massachusetts.
As a result, I continue to see New Hampshire as a symbol of the more traditional Republicanism. Romney will try to straddle Tea Party Republicanism and more traditional establishment Republicanism. If he doesn’t win over New Hampshire, it would indicate he has a lot work to do. It would also suggest that Team Obama’s decision to paint Romney as a far rightist, taking him at his primary rhetoric words, could be a smart strategy because some GOPers have strayed from the notably smaller Republican Party tent as tea became increasingly served. Maybe they won’t vote for Obama, but they could also choose to just not vote.
Some of these folks won’t like what they see happening to THIS GUY.
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.