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78 PERCENTERS

Do Republican officials need to fear the specter of some defiant third party bogeyman emerging to split the vote and keep President Obama in the White House? A new Rasmussen Reports survey reveals that a mere 6 percent of likely Republican primary voters nationwide would vote for a third party candidate if their preferred man “comes up short”; 8 percent would vote for Mr. Obama if that were the case.

Though the race ultimately could be close enough to warrant a recount and maybe a few hanging chads, 78 percent of Republicans still plan to vote for the GOP candidate “no matter what,” says the poll of 1,000 voters conducted Wednesday.

HUNTSMAN‘S WATTAGE

Republican hopeful Jon Huntsman Jr. is eager to become the next “non-Romney candidate” with the timely bounce and momentum afforded to Herman Cain, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Rick Santorum. Mr. Huntsman likely won’t get the big power surge, but he’s got incandescence.

Drag queen and TV host RuPaul has raced off to New Hampshire to make sure everyone knows he is not Rep. Ron Paul, and that he does not intend to "toss his wig" in the campaign ring. (image from RuPaul Andre Charles.)

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Drag queen and TV host RuPaul has raced off to New Hampshire ... more >

There are endorsements from the Boston Globe, plus a spate of smaller New Hampshire papers, including the Concord Monitor, Eagle Times, Modnadnock Ledger-Transcript, Keene Sentinel and Valley News. Like the Globe, the publications cite Mr. Huntsman’s diplomatic prowess, urging him to “seize the moment.”

American Spectator contributor Aaron Goldstein declared that Mr. Huntsman’s debate performance this weekend in Manchester and Concord to be “full of sobriety instead of snark.” Human Events political correspondent Tony Lee noted that the candidate “may be moderate on some issues, but he’s honest. He’s not a phony.”

Aw. It’s enough for Huntsman’s campaign to declare their guy the victor.

“He won Sunday’s debate in Concord by distinguishing himself to voters in New Hampshire and around the nation that he is the leader who can unify the American people,” says campaign manager Matt David. “The fundamental difference in this campaign is that Gov. Huntsman puts country first, and Mitt Romney puts politics first.”

RU THE DAY

Amplify the titter factor and herd the polling precinct volunteers to one side, folks: drag queen and Logo TV host RuPaul has arrived in New Hampshire in time to add even more spectacle to a primary that Granite State Republicans would prefer to keep staid and historic. It’s gone surreal for a few hours, anyway. RuPaul wants to assure voters he is “not throwing his wig in the ring,” despite being mistaken for Republican presidential hopeful Rep. Ron Paul, he says.

“Contrary to recent reports, I did not come in third in the Iowa caucus. I am not even a member of the Republican Party. But I am a proud American,” RuPaul exclaims. “I’m not a political person by nature. But any time a man leaves the house in a wig and a pair of cha-cha heels, he’s making a political statement. Let us not forget that this great nation was founded by a bunch of men wearing wigs.”

TAKE IT FOR GRANITE

Surprise. Though his support dropped by 8 percentage points in the last week, New Hampshire still belongs to Mitt Romney. He’s got 35 percent of primary voter support, followed by Rep. Ron Paul at 20 percent, with 15 percent undecided.

Jon Huntsman Jr. drew 11 percent, followed by Newt Gingrich (9 percent) and Rick Santorum (8 percent). Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Buddy Roemer each drew 1 percent — all this according to a Suffolk University tracking poll of 500 likely primary voters conducted Friday and Saturday.

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