Romney steady in New Hampshire “tracking poll”, as rivals lose ground

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire – Likely New Hampshire Republican Primary voters may be reevaluating their support for former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, according to the latest Suffolk University/7News two-day tracking poll of likely voters in New Hampshire’s GOP presidential primary.

The latest tracking poll results were released this morning (Wednesday, January 4); reflecting an increase in the number of undecided voters, and slippage for Romney’s second-tier rivals for the nomination.

Huntsman dropped three points, from 10 percent yesterday to 7 percent today. Paul dropped two points, from 16 percent to 14 percent, despite a third-place finish in Iowa last night. 

This newest tracking data showed Romney maintaining his lead with 43 percent of the vote, followed by Paul (14 percent), former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich (9 percent), and Huntsman (7 percent).

Meanwhile, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania (6 percent), fresh off an impressive Iowa Caucus second-place showing, managed to climb another point and is now within striking distance of third place.

Huntsman’s three point drop was driven by self-identified moderates, where his support fell from 17 percent to 11 percent, while the undecided among the moderates swelled to 17 percent from 12 percent overnight. Paul’s drop was primarily due to younger voters ages 18-34, where he dropped from 29 percent to 18 percent.

Despite the volatility of Huntsman, Paul, and undecided counts, Mitt Romney’s 43 percent is the same level of support he has shown in the Granite State over the last three consecutive surveys by the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston.

The percentage of voters remaining undecided has increased three points, to 16 percent, suggesting that voters are reevaluating the second tier of contenders.

“The decline of Huntsman and Paul vote counts are primarily responsible for the spike in the undecided count,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. “This means that some voters who previously supported Huntsman and Paul are now undecided.  While these voters may ultimately return to Huntsman and Paul, they may also be looking to reevaluate the field post-Iowa caucus to determine the maximum impact for their respective votes.”

The Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston will release results of two-day tracking polls every day leading up to the New Hampshire Presidential Primary on Tuesday, Jan. 10. CapitolBeatOK will post updates on a regular basis.

Methodology: The statewide survey for New Hampshire includes two nights of 250 likely respondents for a two-day tracking total of 500 likely voters in the Republican Presidential Primary. This track was conducted Jan. 2 and Jan. 3 using live telephone interviews with land line and cell phone users. The margin of error is +/-4.4 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. 

Marginals and full cross-tabulation data have now been posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center Website.