If Trump actually run 21% of New Hampshire GOP voters say they’d vote for him, compared to 27% for Romney. The key to Trump’s relatively strong showing? He does well with birthers and Tea Partiers, two groups he has seemed to actively court with his public comments of late. 42% of primary voters firmly say they do not believe Barack Obama was born in the United States to 35% who believe that he was and 23% who aren’t sure. Trump leads Romney 22-21 with the birther crowd, but Romney holds the overall lead because he’s up by a much wider margin with the folks who dismiss the birther theory.
Trump also leads Romney 23-21 with the Republican primary voters who consider themselves to be Tea Party members but that’s only 30% of the electorate and Romney’s up by a good margin with the folks who don’t identify with that movement…
There is one huge warning sign for Romney in this poll despite the leads he posts in every permutation though: 61% of primary voters say they would not be willing to vote for someone who supported a bill at the state level mandating that people have health insurance. In 5 of the 6 horse race questions we asked Romney still leads with those voters, suggesting that most Republicans who follow politics and the 2012 race only casually are not really aware of ‘Romneycare.’ It’s safe to say they’ll be well aware of it 9 months from now, and it’s going to be interesting to see if Romney can sustain his support once he’s been endlessly bashed over the head with it.
Needless to say, assuming it’s true, that last bit is incredibly ominous for Romney. No wonder Pawlenty’s not sweating being in single digits nationally. As for Trump’s numbers, it’s surprising that Hampshire tea partiers would line up behind him when offered Gingrich and Palin as alternatives. (They finish with 12 and nine percent, respectively, with Michele Bachmann at three percent.) Take your pick of what that might mean: (a) Tea partiers are dissatisfied with the entire field, even the “true conservative” contingent, and are looking for the ultimate “outsider” protest vote; (b) name recognition still counts for a lot right now and Trump’s is probably higher than anyone else’s, Palin included; (c) not only is there significant overlap between Birthers and tea partiers, but Birtherism weighs unusually heavily in their votes. That seems like the obvious conclusion given Trump’s Birther media whirlwind lately, but here’s an unexpected result from the crosstabs: Although Trump leads among Birthers, Romney’s favorable rating among them is actually way higher than Trump’s is (and higher than it is among non-Birthers).
What may be true is that hardcore Birthers are willing to vote for a guy who takes the lead on their pet issue even if on balance they like him less than the competition. So yeah, that might get Trump to 20 percent in a state like New Hampshire that favors, ahem, “mavericks” and has plenty of independent voters willing to scramble the conventional wisdom. But look at his numbers among non-Birthers, and consider the fact that if many Republican voters are still so ill-informed that they don’t yet know about RomneyCare, they surely have no clue about Trump’s past as a thrice-married formerly pro-choice independent who once described himself as “very liberal when it comes to health care.” That’s why I think he won’t run — which of the early states would he contend in besides New Hampshire? — and why, if he did, it’d probably end up helping Romney (or whoever emerges as the “centrist” candidate) for the same reason that a Bachmann run would. The more people there are in the race to appeal to tea partiers and/or Birthers, the more that vote splits and the fewer votes Romney needs from the center to win. Only by actually beating Romney in New Hampshire and effectively destroying his candidacy before it starts would a Trump run help “true conservatives.” Anyone seriously see that happening?