WASHINGTON – Mitt Romney continues to dominate in early polls in New Hampshire, holding onto a sizable lead in a state that is crucial for his presidential bid.
The former Massachusetts governor is favored by 35 percent of those polled, giving him a lead of more than 27 points, according to a poll released tonight by WHDH-TV.
None of the other 17 potential candidates included in the poll, which was conducted by Suffolk University, are in the double-digits.
And despite Donald Trump’s much-heralded visit to the Granite State last week, only 8 percent of those polled said they would support him. That was the same percentage as former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and Representative Ron Paul, a Texas Republican who Trump has said stands “zero chance” at being elected.
Trump had the worst favorability rating in the poll, with 56 percent of respondents saying they had an unfavorable view of him.
The poll comes nine months before voters head to the polls, and the field has not yet fully formed. Romney advisers also say they expect the race will certainly tighten at some point.
“Today, Mitt Romney is the clear front-runner in the New Hampshire Republican primary – but front-runner status has its drawbacks,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. “He will quickly become the target, and like Hillary Clinton a year before the 2008 party primaries, being positioned as the ‘inevitable’ nominee is often followed by a decline in the polls.”
But who might benefit from a dint in Romney’s standing is unclear, with the rest of the field still unsettled. According to the WHDH poll, few are standing out so far.
If the vote were held today, former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin would get 7 percent of the vote; former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee would get 6 percent; and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty would get 5 percent. Representative Michele Bachmann, of Minnesota, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich would each get 3 percent.
For now, Romney has strong approval ratings, with 65 percent saying they view him favorably and 22 percent saying they view him unfavorably.
The poll also indicated that primary voters in New Hampshire are not holding Romney's health care plan in Massachusetts against him. While 86 percent of likely primary voters said they thought President Obama’s health care plan should be repealed or modified, more than half of respondents said that Romney’s role is approving the Massachusetts health care law would not impact their vote.
The statewide survey of 400 likely Republican primary voters was conducted April 30-May 2 using live telephone interviews. It had a margin of error of 4.9 percent.
Some 40 percent of those polled said they were not satisfied with the current field.
The poll also found that if Colin Powell decided to run, he would immediately leap to the front of the pack. Thirty percent of primary voters said they would support the former secretary of state over the candidate they currently support.
Still, more than one-fourth of primary voters said they thought President Obama would win reelection.
“The strong perception in New Hampshire– even among likely Republican voters – is that Barack Obama will stay in the White House,” said Paleologos.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.