DURHAM, N.H. – Mitt Romney continues to lead a congested field for the 2012 Republican nomination for president among New Hampshire Republicans. Michele Bachmann has moved into a distant second place. However, the great majority of voters remain undecided about who they will eventually support.
These findings are based on the latest WMUR Granite State Poll, conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center. Seven hundred seventy-three (773) randomly selected New Hampshire adults were interviewed by telephone between June 21 and July 1, 2011. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 3.5 percent. Included in the sample were 357 likely 2012 Republican Primary voters (margin of sampling error +/- 5.2 percent) and 263 likely 2012 Democratic Primary voters (margin of sampling error +/- 6.0 percent).
“The final field of Republicans contesting for the 2012 nomination is solidifying, and the pace of campaigning in New Hampshire has increased. The first CNN/WMUR debate was held in June, several candidates have officially declared their campaigns, and both declared and not yet declared candidates have stepped up their visits to the Granite State. But it is summer, and candidates will have a difficult time getting through to voters more interested in their vacations than in politics,” said Andrew Smith, director of the UNH Survey Center.
Among likely Republican Primary voters, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, the 2008 New Hampshire runner-up, has led the field since 2009. In the most recent WMUR Granite State Poll, 35 percent of likely Republican Primary voters said they would vote for Romney. Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, fresh off a strong debate performance in June, has climbed into second place with 12 percent, followed by Texas Congressman and 2008 candidate Ron Paul (7 percent), and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (7 percent). Giuliani and Paul have been trading second place for the past year, but neither has been able to consistently crack 10 percent.
Several long-time candidates have been unable to gain traction in New Hampshire: former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty remains mired at 3 percent, 2008 vice presidential candidate and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is also at 3 percent, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has slipped to 1 percent, and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum are both below 1 percent.
Among newcomers to the campaign, Texas Governor Rick Perry is supported by 4 percent of likely primary voters, former Utah Governor and Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman is at 2 percent, former Godfathers Pizza CEO Herman Cain is at 2 percent, and former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer is at less than 1 percent.
“It is critical to point out that primary voters behave very differently than general election voters -- there are no party cues to rely on, and almost all primary voters will vote for their party’s eventual presidential candidate, no matter who that might be,” Smith said. “Most primary voters do not settle on a choice until the very end of the campaign, so early poll numbers are a better gauge of a candidate’s popularity now than an indication of who voters will end up supporting.”
In the most recent poll, 75 percent of likely Republican Primary voters say they are still trying to decide who they will eventually vote for in 2012, 17 percent are leaning toward a candidate, and only 8 percent say they have definitely decided who they will vote for in the primary.
For complete tabular results, visit http://www.unh.edu/survey-center/news/pdf/gsp2011_summer_primary070511.pdf.
The UNH Survey Center has conducted survey research projects at the University of New Hampshire since 1976. The center has grown rapidly during the past 30 years and now conducts approximately 40 to 50 major survey projects each year.
The University of New Hampshire, founded in 1866, is a world-class public research university with the feel of a New England liberal arts college. A land, sea, and space-grant university, UNH is the state's flagship public institution, enrolling 12,200 undergraduate and 2,300 graduate students.
Andrew Smith, director of the UNH Survey Center.