The New Hampshire primary set for Tuesday seems to be shaping up as a contest for second place behind Mitt Romney who appears to be headed for a strong first place victory. I hate following conventional wisdom in stating that Romney appears to be the one to beat, however, in this case every poll agrees that his lead is anywhere from 15 to 30 points ahead of his rivals.
Report from WMUR:
MANCHESTER, N.H. — The top spot in the latest WMUR/University of New Hampshire poll still belongs to Mitt Romney, but the race for second and third place is very close.
Romney holds a commanding lead with 41 percent of those surveyed saying they’d vote for him in the primary.
Ron Paul is in second with 17 percent. The latest mover is Jon Huntsman, who has jumped four percentage points in the last couple days and is now tied for third with Rick Santorum at 11 percent.
Newt Gingrich is right behind with 8 percent.
Rick Perry and Buddy Roemer have 1 percent, and so does Michele Bachmann, who suspended her campaign last week.
The poll surveyed 461 randomly selected likely primary voters between Jan. 5 and Jan. 8. The margin of sampling error was +/- 4.6 percent.
“Two days left and this race is wide open, maybe not at the top, but certainly for the second slot,” said Andy Smith from the UNH Survey Center.
Similar to Mike Huckabee in 2008, though Huckabee actually won, a near-win (tie?) in Iowa has created little movement for Santorum in New Hampshire where values voters are not as plentiful as the Hawkeye state. The real battle will be South Carolina where the top spot has shifted between Gingrich, Romney and Santorum in the past several days.