Gingrich Nearly Tied With Romney In New Hampshire? Don’t Be So Sure Just Yet

A new poll appears to show Newt Gingrich surging in New Hampshire, but there are several caveats to take into account.

A new poll from NH Journal is drawing a lot of attention this afternoon because it shows something truly shocking, that Mitt Romney’s once massive lead in New Hampshire has supposedly collapsed to the point where he now leads Newt Gingrich by only 2 points:

The latest NH Journal poll of likely Republican primary voters conducted by Magellan Strategies shows Romney and Gingrich in a statistical dead heat for the January 10th primary. If the election were held today, Romney would earn 29% of the vote and Gingrich would earn 27%. Texas Congressman Ron Paul continues to show resolve by earning 16%. Herman Cain gets 10%. No other candidate is in double digits.

This is the first time any of NH Journal’s polls have shown anyone candidate even close to Romney. It also shows tremendous movement for Gingrich since NH Journal’s October survey, in which Gingrich was in third place, but at only 10% versus Romney’s 41%. …

A close look at the data shows Gingrich is actually leading Romney among certain important subgroups of the electorate. Among self-identified conservative voters, Gingrich beats Romney 34%-27%. Among self-identified tea party voters, he leads Romney 38%-21%.

However, Romney has a wide lead over Gingrich among Undeclared voters, who give the former Massachusetts Governor 29% over Paul’s 19% and Gingrich’s 18%. There is also a significant gender gap for both Romney and Gingrich. Romney beats Gingrich 33%-22% among women while Gingrich defeats Romney 32%-24% among men.

These are truly astounding numbers, because every previous poll of New Hampshire Republicans has shown Mitt Romney with a massive and seemingly insurmountable lead for Mitt Romney. A Bloomberg poll released earlier this week showed him with a 23 point lead, a Rasmussen poll had him with a 24 point lead, and a CNN/ORC poll had him with a 27 point lead. All these polls were conducted within the past three weeks. If the NH Journal/Magellan poll is accurate then, Mitt Romney has lost nearly all his lead in a state that has been his virtual second home for nearly four years to, of all people, Newt Gingrich. If it’s true and if it were to hold up through January 10th, then it could be a problem for Romney. A loss in New Hampshire would likely be just as fatal to his campaign as his failure to catch on in the early primaries in 2008 had been. And the race for the GOP nomination in 2012 would be thrown into real chaos.

However, there a few things about this poll that should at least give some pause before declaring it definitive. For one thing, it is so different from what we’ve seen to date that the first instinct would be to think that it’s an outlier. As Scott Conroy of RealClearPolitics said on Twitter this morning, it seems advisable to wait for more polling in New Hampshire before declaring that we’ve got a sea change here. Steven Shephard, the Polling Director for National Journal’s Hotline, makes some more substantive criticisms of the poll that are worth noting. For one thing, the Magellan poll is a robocall poll that only dials land lines, which have been known to have accuracy problems in recent years. For another, there are discrepancies between the 2008 GOP Primary Exit Polls and and Magellan’s reported sample demographics that make one wonder about it’s reliability.

To see what Shephard it’s getting at, let’s compare the gender breakdowns from the 2008 GOP Primary Exit Poll, the Magellan Poll, and the recent Bloomberg poll of New Hampshire [PDF]

Here’s the Exit Poll:

  • 18-24 age group — 9% of voters
  • 25-29 age group — 5% of voters
  • 30-39 age group — 15% of voters
  • 40-49 age group — 23% of voters
  • 50-64 age group — 34% of voters
  • 65+ age group — 15% of voters

Here’s the Bloomberg Poll:

  • 18-24 age group — 12% of respondents
  • 25-34 age group — 14% of respondents
  • 34-44 age group — 18% of respondents
  • 45-54 age group — 22% of respondents
  • 55-64 age group — 17% of respondents
  • 65+ age group — 17% of respondents

Here’s Magellan:

  • 18-34 age group — 7% of respondents
  • 35-44 age group — 15% of respondents
  • 45-54 age group — 27% of respondents
  • 55-64 age group — 23% of respondents
  • 65+ age group — 28% of respondents

The analysis would be easier if the age groups from the three surveys matched up, but I think the differences between the three are fairly apparent. Magellan says it’s poll is properly weighted based on past voter turnout but, based on these numbers alone, it seems pretty clear that they have a sample that is more heavily weighted toward an older demographic than either the Bloomberg Poll released only five days ago, or the 2008 Exit Poll. As noted above, that’s most likely due to the fact that their polling methods tend to skip over younger voters and people who no longer have a landline. At the very least then, I would think it wise to wait for another poll or two in New Hampshire before saying that Gingrich is really threatening Mitt Romney in the one state in which he appeared, until now, to have an built an impenetrable fortress.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. michael reynolds says:

    Lord, I know we haven’t spoken much in, oh, I’m going to say 40 years, and I know I’ve denied you exist, but Lord, if you could just do one thing for me I would recant my atheism and make an animal sacrifice. (I have in mind the pug. He snores, Lord.)

    Anyway, just one simple request, Lord: please let Newt win New Hampshire. Please, oh please.

  2. Jr says:

    An Outlier IMO, but if it is true my god it has to suck to be Mitt this morning!

  3. PD Shaw says:

    Older people like Gingrich? I would think the opposite, the older you are, the more likely you’ve reached MCTG (Maximum Critical Tolerance of Gingrich).

  4. PD Shaw says:

    Using the previous RealClearPolitics averages, the main gist is:

    Gingrich up 21 points over previous average;
    Romney down 11 points from previous average;
    Cain down 8 points from previous average.

    Assuming the poll was not representative of Romney’s support, it still looks pretty good with respect to the non-Romney constituency, who do appear to be abandoning Cain in national polls and continuing to lose interest in Perry and Bachmann (both down 1.3 points from previous average).

  5. Curtis says:

    Well, the key qualifier is “seemingly” in front of the insurmountable.

    People are just starting to pay attention. Or maybe they are about to start paying attention. Until now, it has just been us addicts.

    On the night of the Iowa caucuses, someone is going to give a victory speech. And someone else is probably going to give a rousing, they thought we were dead but we came in way higher than expected speech. Some are going to drop out of the race. And some are going to have the narrative turn on them in a big way.

    And all of that is going to have an enormous impact at the polls. This race seems even more fluid than the dems in 2004. But I have a feeling it will get sorted out rather quickly once people start voting.

  6. Barb Hartwell says:

    I would hate to be in position to pick any GOP candidate,but they should pick one that will produce the best laughs Our country needs it. Remember to vote Democrat in November 2012 though We don`t need a Jester in the Whitehouse.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jr:

    An Outlier IMO, but if it is true my god it has to suck to be Mitt this morning!

    I would think it would suck to be Mitt every morning. Think about it: Get up, look in the mirror and say “Who the f*ck are you?”

  8. @OzarkHillbilly:

    Yes, I’m sure he cries all the way to the bank.