Two new New Hampshire polls, conducted by WMUR and the Franklin Center, have Mitt Romney with dominant leads in the primary, which will be held on Jan. 10.
In the WMUR poll, Romney received support from 44 percent of those surveyed. Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum each received 8 percent. Jon Huntsman, whose campaign cannot go forward without a strong finish in New Hampshire, got 7 percent. And Rick Perry, who will make a final attempt to resurrect his candidacy in South Carolina and has foregone New Hampshire, came in at 1 percent.In the Franklin Center poll, Romney leads with 37 percent of the vote, followed by Paul with 19 percent and Huntsman with 16 percent. Santorum is at 14 percent and Gingrich is at 9 percent.
The Franklin Center polled 1,482 likely Republican primary voters on the phone last night.
There will be two debates this weekend in New Hampshire, on Saturday evening and Sunday Morning, and the poll numbers indicate that the main event will be the battle for second place.
The second place finisher can pick up some momentum if Romney’s margin of victory is not as dominant as these polls indicate that it will be.
The only chance for someone to emerge as Romney’s chief rival as the primary season heads to the South may be if everyone except the person who finishes in second place in New Hampshire drops out of the race. But the longer Romney’s rivals compete to become the chief Romney alternative, the more they divide up the anti-Romney vote and burn what little resources and treasure they have remaining.
And even in South Carolina, the state in which Romney’s rivals will most likely make their last stands, Romney led a new CNN/Opinion Research poll by double digits over Santorum, 37 percent to 19 percent. Gingrich was close behind Santorum with 18 percent; Paul had 12 percent; Perry had 5 percent; Huntsman had 1 percent.
After New Hampshire votes on Jan. 10, the nation’s first-in-the-South primary in South Carolina is on Jan. 21.