Mitt Romney Wins N.H. Straw Poll, Ron Paul Second, Palin Fourth

It's straw poll season already. First up, New Hampshire where things turned out about how you'd expect them to considering Mitt Romney lives there now.

An early test of candidate support in the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire turned largely as expected, although there were a few surprises:

DERRY, N.H. – Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won the first presidential straw poll of the 2012 cycle, kicking off New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary election race.

Romney won with 35 percent, beating second-place finisher Ron Paul by 24 points in the WMUR-ABC News straw poll of members of the state Republican Party. In third place was former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who won 8 percent—just one point ahead of Sarah Palin, who drew 7 percent.

Because Romney has such high name recognition here and has a home in Wolfeboro, N.H., he was widely expected to win—and observers here were far more interested in who would come in second and third.

Only three candidates—Romney, Pawlenty and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum—have spent significant amounts of time on the ground in the state over the past few months. At today’s convention, Pawlenty staffed a table to promote his new book while Santorum consultant and longtime New Hampshire operative Mike Biundo had a table and worked the crowd.

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann won 5 percent, pizza mogul Herman Cain took 4 percent, and Santorum won 3 percent—tied with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Indiana Rep. Mike Pence and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee

The poll is a strong showing Romney, who drew 39 percent support in a Jan. 7 NH Journal poll of likely New Hampshire voters. But noteworthy is how far ahead he is of Pawlenty and Santorum, the other two candidates who have spent significant time in the state in the past year.

Romney’s strength isn’t all that surprising considering his ties to the Granite State, which means that the real race in February 2012 will be for who will comes in second. Ron Paul’s second place finish is likely a reflection of his supporters ability to pull of surprising results in polls of these kinds, especially considering he came in fifth in the New Hampshire Journal poll referenced in the article:

Former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney holds a commanding lead in New Hampshire in the early stages of the race for the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination, according to a new survey commissioned by NH Journal and conducted by Magellan Strategies. The survey is the first statewide survey of Granite State Republicans and Republican-leaning independents in 2011.

Romney leads former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin by 23 points, with Romney earning 39% and Palin earning 16%. Mike Huckabee (10%), Newt Gingrich (8%), Texas Congressman Ron Paul (7%), former MN Gov. Tim Pawlenty (4%), Rick Santorum (3%) and MS Gov. Haley Barbour (1%) all trail significantly behind. Romney finished second to Sen. John McCain in the 2008 New Hampshire Republican Presidential primary.

Palin’s weak showing, meanwhile, may have something to do with the fact that New Hampshire is the only early primary state she has not visited: At the same time, though, that NH Journal polled showed that Palin has positive favorability numbers among Republicans and independents in New Hampshire, the last being a deviation from her performance nationwide, so it’s entirely possible that this could be turned around if she did decide to run, and to campaign in New Hampshire.

Nonetheless, though, this early test of support, and Romney’s victory, was about what should be expected.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Politicians, Sarah Palin, 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. Tannim says:

    ‘Because Romney has such high name recognition here and has a home in Wolfeboro, N.H., he was widely expected to win—and observers here were far more interested in who would come in second and third.”

    Retry:

    “Because New Hampshire Reuplicans are still in 2008 and don’t understand that Republicans equal big government, 2008-reject and carpetbagger Romney was widely expected to win—and observers here were far more interested in who would come in second and third.”

  2. ponce says:

    Romney is the ideal Republican candidate to lose to Obama by 12-15 million votes and retain his dignity.

  3. floyd says:

    All this talk…. and Giuliani ends up with the nomination! HA!
    Jeane Dixon said so…In a seance.

  4. JKR says:

    Doug, are you ACTIVELY trying to downplay Ron Paul’s results? This was a straw poll ONLY OF GOP COMMITTEE MEMBERS. For Ron Paul’s supporters to ‘pull off surprising results’, they would have to have the attention of committee members who were the only ones who could vote.

    I can tell you the forums found out about this Thursday night. Possibly there is a different story here?

  5. superdestroyer says:

    New Hampshire is a Republican Fire wall against Palin. There is no way she wins in N.H. while Iowa will not vote for someone who is too lazy to do the retail politics required for a win in a caucus state.

    Since no Republican is going to beat President Obama, wouldn’t it be better to at least have an articulate candidate who can talk about the issues like Romney instead of someone who either has foot in mounth disease like Gingrich or someone who does not understand the issues like Huckabee.

  6. @JKR:

    Please tell me we aren’t going to go through a series Ron Paul fantasies again, are we?

    Please go back and look at how he did in actual primaries back in 2008 before we start talking like he is a viable candidate.

    Further, this is a straw poll and therefore only useful for idle chit-chat and nothing more.

  7. wr says:

    SuperD — The great thing about Romney is not only that he can talk about the issues, but that he can and will argue every side, depending on what he thinks his audience wants to hear. Obama won’t even need to show up for the debates — Romney can do it all!

  8. Eric Florack says:

    @Tannim: Close… and I’m sympathetic…. but say rather that unfortunately for the country, Romney is the closest to conservative as they’re likely to vote for up there in New England.

  9. superdestroyer says:

    WR,

    At least Romney is articulate enough to actually make a reasonable argument, hard working enough to read his briefing books, and smart enough to apply what he has read. That puts him ahead of the last four Republican candidates for president.

    Did it really matter what GW Bush said in a presidential debate or during the election since he did not do anything while in office that he campaigned on.

  10. Rick Almeida says:

    I, for one, look forward to the inevitable clash between Gov. Palin’s and Rep. Paul’s supporters.

  11. Jay says:

    We’d have to be insane to have Romney! It’d be almost like electing Obama again, which it’d make possible, if not quite as possible as Palin would. Unless everyone really IS ready to vote for ANYONE but Obama.

  12. An Interested Party says:

    “At least Romney is articulate enough to actually make a reasonable argument…”

    Indeed…it will quite amusing to watch how he articulates and makes a “reasonable” argument against his very own health care plan enacted when he was governor of Massachusetts…

  13. superdestroyer says:

    I.P.

    As far as a media candidate, Romney can do better than repeating talking points and haivng the deer in the headlights look that most of the other Republicans have.

    The Republicans have zero chance of beating President Obama. Thus, the Republicans need a candidate that looks good on television and is far from Bush as they can get. Palin, Huckabee, Pawlenty, Thune are just continuation of the Bush plan of incompetent candidates and campaign gimmicks.

    One of the problems that the Republicans have is the Bush clan was determine to no develop any talent outside of the Bush clan. Now that the Bush clan is totally discredited, the Republicans are left with no one else.

  14. JKR says:

    Steven L, he was in a statistical tie, with no effort, for a Senate seat vacating in TX. The things he predicted in 2008 came true, and people realize that. The tea parties are since 2008.

    What will be, will be. Surely you can wait and see, right?

  15. @JKR:

    Could he win a GOP nomination for Senate in Texas (and thereby the seat)? I could se that as a possibility.

    However, the issue at hand was a presidential nomination, which isn’t going to happen.

  16. An Interested Party says:

    “One of the problems that the Republicans have is the Bush clan was determine to no develop any talent outside of the Bush clan. Now that the Bush clan is totally discredited, the Republicans are left with no one else.”

    Oh please, so the reason the GOP bench is so lacking is because of the Bush clan? Such a convenient excuse…

  17. Axel Edgren says:

    The reason there are no serious and competitive GOP hopefuls is the same reason Italy does not have a good hockey team. If you start building in a valley the final construction is hardly going to dominate the scenery.

    I think democrats should worry about congress instead.

  18. Pat Mock says:

    I am very familiar with Herman Cain. If you want an articulate, bright,conservative candidate (who has met many payrolls), you will want to go with The Herminator. There is no finer gentleman or scholar than Mr. Cain. He is honest and straight forward and quite an orator. Obama can’t play the race card with Herman. Herman is black and we in Ga. love him. Go to Herman Cain.com and learn about him. You will vote for him, I guarantee it.