- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Mitt Romney is crushing the Republican field in New Hampshire in a new poll.

The same survey has Rick Perry badly trailing in fourth place.

Mr. Romney is 27 percentage points ahead of his nearest presidential nomination rival, Ron Paul, in the poll released late Wednesday night.

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Though the front-runner in national polls, Mr. Perry is a distant fourth in the Sept. 18-20 David Paleologos survey for Suffolk University and 7News.

The poll, which has a plus-or-minus 4.9 percentage point margin of error, reinforces what political experts have suspected –  a close GOP race next year that seesaws between the former Massachusetts governor and the governor of Texas.

Before the Paleologos poll, Mr. Romney was leading the field in New Hampshire by 18.7 percent in RealClearPolitic’s average of all recent polls, garnering 32 percent of the vote compared to Mr. Perry’s 9.7 percent.

In Iowa, which has a GOP primary voter base with more evangelical Christians than in New Hampshire, Mr. Perry, favored by many deeply religious voters, leads the field by 6.4 percent in Iowa, in the average of the latest polls there.

The Texas governor attracts 24.7 percent of likely Iowa GOP presidential caucus voters. That puts him slightly more than 6 percentage points ahead of Mr. Romney and another evangelicals’ favorite, Michele Bachmann.

Mr. Romney’s advantages in New Hampshire include his reputation for moderate conservatism, his northeastern persona and his having been governor of Massachusetts, whose television news penetrates well into New Hampshire, many of whose residents think of him as a former neighbor.

The Suffolk/7News poll has Mr. Romney at 41 percent (5 points over the same poll’s June results), followed by Mr. Paul, the Texas congressman, with 14 percent and former Utah Gov. John Huntsman, with 10 percent.

Mr. Perry led the single-digit finishers with 8 percent, followed Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Buddy Roemer, whose name is rarely mentioned in the news and in conversations about the 2012 presidency.

The poll asked respondents to name their second choice for the nomination. “Romney’s added strength in the second-choice question reduces the probability that any other candidate will be able to mobilize and capture all of the non-Romney voters as well as the undecided voters,” said Mr. Paleologos. “Romney is not only the overwhelming first choice, but he also has a competitive edge as a fallback option among voters who support other candidates.”

But New Hampshire, which traditionally holds the first primary in the nation in a presidential nomination year, is one of the few states that allows independents to vote in the GOP primary.

Iowa normally holds its presidential caucuses –  where voting takes place on the same night in firehalls, schools and other neighborhood places across the state –  a week before New Hampshire’s primary.

In the Paleologos poll, half the New Hamshire respondents identified themselves as Republicans and 42 percent as Independents.


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