WASHINGTON – Former Governor Mitt Romney has struggled to attract support among Tea Party activists in pockets throughout the country, but he appears to have secured broad support among the movement’s supporters in New Hampshire.
In a new WMUR poll, his favorability among supporters of the Tea Party is strikingly high – 77 percent and far exceeds any other candidate.
“People hear Tea Party and think small government, and the small government message is something people in this state are raised with,” said Andy Smith, who conducted the poll as director of the UNH Survey Center. “Romney’s attractiveness here is because he’s philosophically attuned to most of the Republicans in the state.”
The support among the Tea Party could be crucial for Romney in New Hampshire, a must-win state for him. Tea Party activists in the state have been mobilizing, and recently helped elect one of their own – Jack Kimball – to lead the state’s Republican Party.
Nearly half of those surveyed said they support the Tea Party movement.
Romney advisers have argued that even while Romney may struggle with some of the movement’s activists – in large part because of his health care law in Massachusetts – his fiscal message of reducing taxes and cutting spending would resonate with the Tea Party philosophy.
That appears to be born out, at least in New Hampshire. Among Tea Party supporters, Romney’s favorability numbers were far higher than even candidates who are viewed as closely aligned with the movement, such as Sarah Palin (whose favorability was 48 percent), Ron Paul (43 percent), and Newt Gingrich (53 percent).
Romney dominated the poll overall, with 40 percent saying they would vote for him. But his support was even greater among those who support the Tea Party, with 43 percent saying they would support him.
Here are the favorability ratings for the other candidates in the poll:
Rudy Giuliani: 63 percent
Mike Huckabee: 55 percent
Tim Pawlenty: 45 percent
Rick Santorum: 40 percent
Haley Barbour: 27 percent
Donald Trump: 24 percent
John Thune: 18 percent
Mitch Daniels: 15 percent
Gary Johnson: 7 percent
Matt Viser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.