A new poll shows former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is headed for a big win in New Hampshire — as other polls show in surging in Iowa and nationally. Unless there is yet another abrupt reversal in trending in the battle for the 2012 Republican nomination, it may turn out that the original belief of Romney’s “inevitability” will prove true.
Mitt Romney holds a commanding lead in the run-up to the Jan. 10 New Hampshire primary, according to a new poll released Thursday afternoon by Public Policy Polling.
Romney leads his closest Republican rival in the state, Ron Paul, by 15 percentage points. Newt Gingrich is a distant third. Gingrich’s support in the state has dropped 4 percentage points, from 17 percent to 13 percent, since the last PPP survey in mid-December. The drop, though modest in scale, underscores the perception that Gingrich is losing momentum nationally, and in the first-to-vote states of Iowa and New Hampshire.
The poll, conducted among likely Republican primary voters, indicates that Romney is drawing 36 percent support, compared to 21 percent for Paul.
Jon Huntsman, who has bet his candidacy on a strong performance in the Granite State, has 12 percent support according to the poll, placing him fourth. This showing does not suggest Huntsman is strong enough to make a serious impact in New Hampshire, especially because it shows no improvement in his position from the same organization’s earlier poll in the state.
Among the other contenders, Michele Bachmann has 7 percent support, while Rick Perry, Rick Santorum and Buddy Roemer are tied at 3 percent each.
The weak standings of Bachmann, Perry and Santorum underscore New Hampshire’s reputation as a less-favorable state for religious conservatives than Iowa.
And the context also suggests a Romney surge:
Meanwhile, in other developments:
—Paul says sanctions against Iran would be an act of war. He will likely lose votes due to some of his foreign policy statements. Such as this. The Politico:
The anti-war stance, the sharp criticism of the war on terrorism, the calls to rein in military spending — all of it is fueling Paul’s support among the young voters who throng his events, and among independents and Democrats.
In a historically dovish state, with a crowded contest uniquely suited to a candidate with a fervent base of support, it’s a model that can work. But beyond Iowa’s borders, in a hawkish party that has traditionally embraced a muscular military role and recently criticized President Barack Obama for his alleged timidity, it’s a different story.
One of Michele Bachmann’s top campaign advisers is breaking with his own candidate to defend Kent Sorenson, the Bachmann campaign’s former Iowa chairman who publicly defected to Ron Paul on Wednesday.
Wes Enos, Bachmann’s Iowa political director, released a statement Thursday defending Sorenson from Bachmann’s accusation that Paul offered him money to switch allegiances.
In a statement distributed by Sorenson, Enos stated “unequivocally” that Sorenson’s decision was “in no way financially motivated.”
“His decision had more to do with the fact that the Ron Paul supporters have been something of a family to him since he was first elected in 2008 and here in the end, as it becomes more and more apparent that the caucus cycle is coming to an end, Kent believed that he needed to be with them as they stand on the cusp of a potential caucus upset,” Enos said in the statement.
“While I personally disagree with Kent’s decision, and plan to stay with Michele Bachmann because I truly believe in her, I cannot, in good conscious watch a good man like Kent Sorenson be attacked as a ‘sell-out’ … That is simply not the case, and it was not the basis of his decision,” he added.
At the first three stops on his Iowa bus tour, capacity crowds prompted the campaign to open overflow rooms. By Thursday the campaign had re-jiggered its expectations and set up a tent outside Romney’s morning stop at a diner, where about 40 voters who could not squeeze into the cafe waited to see the candidate.
A campaign aide said he had expected Romney’s support to grow in the state as undecided voters began to make their final decisions, but said the campaign had been surprised by the size of the turnout at events.
In a sign of increased confidence, an aide confirmed Romney will spend caucus night in Des Moines – instead of in Romney’s firewall state of New Hampshire, where the campaign could cushion the blow of a poor Iowa showing.
Romney has long said he would like to win Iowa, but has also said he does not expect to win every state. He went a step further Wednesday in acknowledging the momentum he felt in the Hawkeye State.
“The numbers that are showing up are a lot more than we’d expected. And their level of excitement and enthusiasm and their willingness to caucus on my behalf is encouraging,” he told members of the media in Clinton. “So the response I’m getting is really quite heartening.”