Poll: New Hampshire Primary is Romney's to Lose

| Tue Feb. 15, 2011 7:35 AM PST

The New Hampshire primary, the first of the presidential race, can make or break a candidate's run for the White House. According to a new WMUR Granite State Poll, New Hampshire's 2012 Republican primary is Mitt Romney's to lose, with 40 percent of prospective voters saying they'd vote for the former Massachusetts governor. The next closest presidential hopeful, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, received just 10 percent support.

Straggling in behind them were former governors Tim Pawlenty and Mike Huckabee with 7 percent each. Then comes former House speaker Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin with 6 percent, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) with 5 percent, Donald Trump with 3 percent, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and Mississippi governor Haley Barbour with 1 percent.

No doubt Romney's is partly owed to his tenure governing Massachusetts, a neighboring state. But his overwhelming support in New Hampshire also reflects the political make-up of the state's voters, who tend to care more about fiscal issues and less about religion and the culture wars. "Romney is doing well in part because his brand of Republicanism fits with most New Hampshire Republicans, who can be characterized as 'Rockefeller Republicans,'" Andrew Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire's Survey Center, told WMUR. Not that Romney's political DNA did much good in 2008, when he lost the state to John McCain.

If Palin does decide to launch a 2012 presidential bid, she'll have her work cut out for her in must-win early states like New Hampshire, Iowa, and South Carolina. Right now, polls show flagging support for her in these states. Public Policy Polling recently found that Palin's support in Iowa was a mere 15 percent, badly trailing Mike Huckabee at 30 percent. Another poll by a Republican strategy firm also found Palin trailing Huckabee by double digits. Should Palin run and then lose Iowa and New Hampshire, her presidential aspirations would be all but sunk.

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