Mitt Romney continues to look like an overwhelming early favorite for the 2012 New Hampshire primary but the most surprising thing about our newest set of numbers there may be that Ron Paul's in third place, outpolling Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin (albeit by small margins.)
Romney leads the way with 31% to 14% for Newt Gingrich, 13% for Paul, 12% for Huckabee, 9% for Palin, 3% for Tim Pawlenty, and 1% for Mitch Daniels.
Observations from the numbers:
-Among voters who are more likely to support a candidate endorsed by Sarah Palin...Romney leads...with 29% to Palin's 21%. We've written repeatedly about how our 2012 polling shows a disconnect between people liking Palin and being willing to support her for President and this is a great example of it.
-Mike Huckabee's inability to follow up on his Iowa victory with a strong showing in New Hampshire significantly stunted his momentum from the surprising early win in 2008 and it doesn't look like he has much more appeal in the state now than he did then.
-The numbers provide some evidence that the happier GOP voters are with their party in 2012 the better off Romney's going to be. With voters who think the party's too liberal he's tied at 22 with Gingrich. With voters who think the party's too conservative he trails Paul 24-22. But he's up 42-12 on Gingrich with folks who think the party is ideologically 'about right' and that's fueling his overall lead. What happens in this fall's elections could have a big impact on Romney's prospects. If Republicans get back in control the rank and file will be happier and might be more inclined to support a mainstream candidate like Romney. If the party falls short its voters might be more inclined to shake things up and go with someone a lot less conventional than the former Massachusetts Governor.
-Ron Paul's numbers challenge the general assumptions about his support a little bit. With voters who identify themselves as Tea Partiers he's in fifth place with only 9%. With voters who don't identify themselves as such he's in second place with 15%. His son, Rand Paul, has been to some extent the poster child for the Tea Party on the national level but that's not equating to support from that quarter for his dad. Paul's numbers also suggest some appeal to the anti-Palin wing of the party. With GOP primary voters who consider a Palin endorsement to be a negative he's running almost even, getting 23% to Romney's 25%. But he polls at only 6% with people for whom Palin support is a plus.
-We get a lot of e-mail asking us to include Tim Pawlenty in all of our 2012 Presidential polling but his numbers here are a reminder of why we aren't- yet. Pawlenty was at 3% in our New Hampshire polling in April and he's still there. He's getting a lot of attention in insider circles as he positions himself for a 2012 bid but it's not translating to the general public enough yet for him to make a real dent in the polls. Pawlenty still has plenty of time to become a serious player for the Republican nomination but his name recognition isn't to the point yet where we'd get much out of including him every month on our national 2012 poll testing match ups against Obama.
Full results here