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Romney Leads, Bachmann Moves Into Second in N.H.

Romney Leads, Bachmann Moves Into Second in N.H.

By Caitlin Huey-Burns - June 29, 2011


A new survey of likely New Hampshire primary voters taken after the Republican presidential debate there earlier this month shows former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leading by 25 percentage points. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann finished second but has gained significant momentum in the past two months, according to the Suffolk University/7NEWS poll released Tuesday night.

Romney, who owns a house in New Hampshire, governed neighboring Massachusetts for one term and launched his presidential campaign in the Granite State, leads Bachmann, 36 percent to 11 percent. The Minnesota congresswoman, who announced her candidacy on Monday, has picked up eight points since the last Suffolk poll was taken in May; Romney gained one point.

Bachmann visited New Hampshire on Tuesday, telling the Union Leader, "There are two things about New Hampshire: They hate high taxes and they love liberty, and that is Michele Bachmann." She also finished second to Romney in favorability, 64 percent to 44 percent. But she will likely do well with the 51 percent of state Republicans who align with the tea party, with which Bachmann identified herself in her campaign kickoff speech.

Romney and Bachmann, who were neck-and-neck in a Des Moines Register poll released over the weekend, are the only contenders with double-digit support in New Hampshire. Texas Rep. Ron Paul came in third with 8 percent. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani finished fourth with 5 percent -- even though the 2008 candidate hasn't said whether he will seek the presidency in 2012. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin tied with 4 percent support. (During her visit Tuesday to Pella, Iowa, where a documentary film touting her record in Alaska debuted, the 2008 vice presidential candidate again fueled speculation about whether she will run.) Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty tied with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and businessman Herman Cain with 2 percent of the vote. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum trailed the pool with 1 percent.

Though he leads the field by double digits, the margin between Romney and Bachmann as "second choice" candidates is narrow. If voters' first choice for the GOP nomination dropped out, 14 percent said they would choose Romney as an alternative while 12 percent would choose Bachmann. Tim Pawlenty picks up four percentage points in the category. Thirty-eight percent of voters are undecided about their second choice.

Yet regardless of whom they intend to support, 27 percent of New Hampshire voters think Romney will be the next president while 24 percent say Obama will stay in the White House. The difference is within the poll's margin of error. Obama won in New Hampshire by roughly 10 points in 2008, and John Kerry edged George W. Bush by 1 percent in 2004. Obama's favorability rating among Republican primary voters dropped 11 points since the last Suffolk poll, to 25 percent.

As for the chief issues facing the country, 46 percent of voters say jobs and the economy; 19 percent put a priority on reducing the national debt.

The Suffolk poll surveyed 400 likely voters in New Hampshire's Republican presidential primary from June 25-27. The margin of error is 4.9 percent.

Caitlin Huey-Burns is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at chueyburns@realclearpolitics.com. Follow her on Twitter @CHueyBurnsRCP.

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