Poll: Perry now ... fifth in New Hampshire

When this state was polled by Rasmussen two weeks ago, he trailed Romney 39/18. Now this. A distant fifth, and if you include Giuliani in the mix, Perry drops to sixth — in a tie, with … Newt Gingrich.

Bear in mind, the primary’s just three months away.

The WMUR Granite State Poll shows that Romney is the choice of 37 percent of likely Republican primary voters. Surging to a distant second is businessman Herman Cain, with 12 percent. He is followed by U.S. Rep. Ron Paul at 9 percent…

The rest of the field is filled out by former Utah governor and U.S. ambassador to China John Huntsman with 8 percent, Texas Gov. Rick Perry with 4 percent, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich with 4 percent, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann with 2 percent and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum with 2 percent…

Romney is also considered to have the best shot at defeating President Barack Obama among likely Republican voters. About 52 percent said the former Massachusetts governor had the best chance, followed by Perry at 7 percent, Cain at 5 percent and Paul at 5 percent.

Fully 68 percent of voters say they’re still undecided, but Romney’s net favorable rating is a rosy +47. It’ll take a lot to put a dent in that, and even if Perry succeeds, there are four candidates ahead of him who stand to benefit more than he does. Even if he lucks out and the field clears a bit by, say, Huntsman dropping out, Huntsman’s supporters are a lot more likely to break for Romney than for Perry. He’s got two options in New Hampshire now. Either he starts pushing himself as the only Not Romney in the race with the financial backing to actually win the nomination, which might shake some of Cain’s and Paul’s supporters loose, or he writes the state off as unwinnable soon and spends the next three months in Iowa, South Carolina, and Florida, with an occasional detour into Nevada. That’ll make for horrible press, though, amid perceptions that he’s already on a downward arc. True first-tier candidates don’t bail out of early primary states. (Right, Rudy?)

Here’s his new ad. It’s well done, but carbon won’t decide this race. And because people have been bugging us all day to post it, here’s the obligatory new Zogby online poll showing Herman Cain leading Romney nationally by, um, 20 points. That’s not remotely accurate, but then neither was this one and I posted that too. Zog-tastic!

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