Rasmussen took its last survey of the New Hampshire primary race on Sunday, and the results are … not terribly surprising, at least at the top. As has been the case for weeks, Mitt Romney maintained his 2-1 lead over the nearest competitor, which continues to be Ron Paul, 37-17. Jon Huntsman has moved up to third, though, and Rick Santorum barely edges Newt Gingrich for fourth:
Mitt Romney, the former governor of neighboring Massachusetts, remains well ahead of his nearest rival in Rasmussen Reports’ final survey of the New Hampshire Republican Primary race.
Romney earns 37% support, with Texas Congressman Ron Paul a distant second with 17% of the vote in the latest telephone survey of Likely Republican Primary Voters taken Sunday night. Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman is now in third with 15%, up slightly from 12% late last week.
Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, coming off his photo finish with Romney in last week’s Iowa caucuses, picks up 13% of the vote, unchanged from the previous survey. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich also has made a modest gain, moving from eight percent (8%) support among likely primary voters last week to 12% now. Perry, who is counting on the January 21 South Carolina Primary to determine the fate of his candidacy, remains in the cellar here with one percent (1%). Another one percent (1%) prefers some other candidate in the race, and three percent (3%) remain undecided.
Basically, with just five points separating the four candidates behind Romney, it’s a virtual tie for second place in the Rasmussen poll. On Intrade, bets on Huntsman finishing second pushed up to 45% over the last couple of days, but bets on him winning the nomination declined from 6.6% to 5.6% in the same period. So far, none of the also-rans have gained any real separation over the others, except for Perry, who got separation in the wrong direction.
Santorum’s finish here looks surprising. The media meme in the last 24 hours is that Santorum has acknowledged that New Hampshire is not Iowa, which I doubt Santorum would have argued in the first place, and NPR argued that Santorum is “slipping” in the Granite State. An argument could be made that he’s not gaining momentum since last week, but finishing in a virtual tie for second among four candidates in a state that wasn’t supposed to like his social conservatism hardly strikes me as slipping. Gingrich has campaigned non-stop here for the last few days and has gained a little, but it’s surprising to see him still behind Santorum in NH, even if by a single point.
Meanwhile, as I was writing this post, Suffolk University sent me their final tracking poll results for the primary, which mostly matches the Rasmussen results:
Mitt Romney is primed to complete the political perfecta of winning both the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary, according to the final two-day Suffolk University/7News tracking poll of likely voters in New Hampshire.
Romney (37 percent) led Ron Paul (18 percent), Jon Huntsman (16 percent), Rick Santorum (11 percent), and Newt Gingrich (9 percent), while Rick Perry and Buddy Roemer each had 1 percent, with 7 percent undecided.
“Mitt Romney may beat his closest competitor by a two- to-one margin,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “With two solid debate performances, Romney weathered the storm earlier this week, while no opponent made a serious run at him.”
This includes polling taken yesterday as well as Sunday, which takes into account some of the last-minute attacks on Romney’s Bain experience. It seems to have had little effect. The biggest move between Sunday and Monday was that Huntsman outpolled Paul on the final day, but that came from improved draw from independents (26%) rather than Republicans (9%).
I’ll predict that Romney will hit 40%, with Jon Huntsman coming in second at 17%, Paul at 15%, and Santorum at 13%. If Paul falls to third in New Hampshire, there’s not much in the near future of the primaries — save the binding caucuses in Nevada, perhaps — where he can score a significant finish. Huntsman is a dog that won’t hunt in South Carolina, and with Santorum, Gingrich, and Perry splitting the conservative vote there, Romney could be in position to run the early table. Earlier today on Radio Row, Debbie Wasserman Schultz made an appearance on WBZ’s morning show to try to argue that anything short of a majority for Romney in New Hampshire was a failure. That sounds as though the Democrats are already starting to worry about Romney being the nominee.