Republican presidential primary candidate Mitt Romney has been focusing strongly on New Hampshire voters and it appears to be paying off. The granite state's key Republican primary is set for January 10, one week after the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucus, and the former governor of Massachusetts has taken a commanding 22-point lead ahead of the competition.
A Boston Globe poll released Sunday finds that Romney has the support of 39 percent of likely New Hampshire primary voters, with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Texas Rep. Ron Paul tied for a distant second at 17 percent each. Romney's polling in New Hampshire is still three points lower than his standing in the Globe's survey last month, but his still strong lead indicates that Gingrich's national surge has not overthrown the former Massachusetts governor in the state that he now lives in and is critical to his primary campaign.
Rep. Paul has seen the most gain in New Hampshire over the past month, rising five points since November. Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman has picked up three percentage points and polled just six points behind Gingrich and Paul. The latest results for Rep. Paul in New Hampshire, coupled with his steady rise to the top in Iowa, makes the case that the outspoken libertarian congressman, rather than Newt Gingrich, will likely be the greatest challenge to Romney's hopes of securing the Republican nomination.
The Hill reports that Sunday's announcement marks the major return of momentum for Romney in New Hampshire. In addition to securing the most support, he also leads the field as the favorite second choice among voters, taking 22 percent compared to Gingrich’s 21 percent, Paul’s nine percent, and Huntsman’s seven percent. Fifty-five percent of likely New Hampshire GOP primary voters said Romney has the best shot against Obama. The only other candidate to break double-digits in that category is Gingrich, at 18 percent, who leads a seperate category of who New Hampshire voters say they would not vote for under any circumstances.
New Hampshire will be the second state to vote in the Republican presidential race on Jan. 10.