The Washington Times - October 10, 2011, 01:09PM

On the eve of the presidential debate there, a new poll shows Mitt Romney holding a big edge in New Hampshire over his rivals in the GOP nomination race.

The former Massachusetts governor secured the support of 38 percent of the respondents in a new poll by the Institute of Politics (IOP) at Harvard University and the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College.


Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain sits in second with 20 percent and Texas Rep. Ron Paul places third with 13 percent.

Three-term Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who for weeks enjoyed king of the hill status in national polls, is at 4 percent.

The new poll helps set the stage for Tuesday’s debate at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, home to the first primary in the nation.

“The real significant finding in this data is not so much who the front-runner is at this point — Governor Romney has been the front-runner in this field for a while — but who is not in the top tier,” said Patrick Griffin, senior fellow at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics. “With Herman Cain showing surprising strength as the ‘Romney Alternative’ and a compressed primary schedule, Gov. Perry may be running out of time in New Hampshire. There is a lot more riding on this Tuesday’s debate for Romney, Cain and Perry (in that order) today then there was yesterday.”

Poll findings was based on 648 telephone interviews  with likely voters in the New Hampshire Republican primary that were conducted between Sunday, Oct. 2 and Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011.  The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4.4 percentage points:

Mitt Romney — 38%

Herman Cain — 20%

 Ron Paul — 13%

Newt Gingrich — 5%

Jon Huntsman — 4%

Rick Perry — 4%

Michelle Bachmann — 3%

Gary Johnson — 1%

Rick Santorum — 1%

Don’t know — 11%