Public Policy Polling Media Alert: Romney still up big in New Hampshire, Paul and Huntsman close for 2nd

Mitt Romney continues to be headed for a comfortable win in New Hampshire.  PPP's final poll there finds him with 35% to 18% for Ron Paul, 16% for Jon Huntsman, 12% for Newt Gingrich, 11% for Rick Santorum, 3% for Buddy Roemer, and 1% for Rick Perry.

Romney's support has been remarkably consistent over the course of PPP's three Granite State tracking polls, never straying from 35-36%. He's the most popular of the candidates in the state, with a 60/34 favorability rating. And he also has the most committed supporters...85% of them say they're definitely going to vote for him and when you look at the race just among those whose minds are completely made up his lead over Paul expands to 40-19.

The excitement in New Hampshire on Tuesday night will probably be the battle for second place.  There Huntsman has the momentum. His support is up from 12% to 16%, while Paul's has declined from 21% to 18% over the last week and a half. Huntsman's favorability (55/30) is far better than Paul's (43/51) and 13% of voters list Huntsman as their 2nd choice compared to only 5% for Paul. 

All of these same arguments for Huntsman potentially overtaking Paul could have been applied to Santorum overtaking Paul on our Iowa poll last weekend and of course that's what did happen when it was finally time to count the votes.

Even if Huntsman does pull the second place finish though it's hard to see that translating into much success further down the line.  Among actual Republican voters Huntsman finds himself in 5th place at just 11%. But 40% or more of the electorate on Tuesday will be non-Republican and Huntsman's greatest strength is with Obama voters, among whom he gets 35% to 25% for Paul and 19% for Romney. The problem for him is there won't likely be another primary where 25% of the voters chose Obama in 2008.

Beyond the battle for second it looks like the only other intrigue on Tuesday night will be who finishes fourth, which is presently close between Gingrich and Santorum. Gingrich has stopped the bleeding in New Hampshire over the last week and a half, dropping only from 13% to 12%. Santorum though is actually the biggest gainer relative to a week ago, up 8 points from his previous 3% standing.

If you think momentum is a major factor Huntsman probably bests Paul for 2nd and Santorum probably beats out Gingrich for 4th.

This analysis is also available on our website:

I didn’t attach the full results because the file is so large but you can see those here: