Globe endorses Huntsman, but Romney still bulletproof in New Hampshire

at 06:30 AM ET, 01/06/2012

Mitt Romney’s lead in New Hampshire has been huge for the entire GOP presidential race, and it is showing no signs of abating.

In fact, it looks downright bulletproof — so much so that his hometown Boston Globe’s new endorsement of rival Jon Huntsman probably won’t have much of an effect.

Polling in the state shows that not only is Romney’s support wide — more than 40 percent of New Hampshire voters — but it’s also deep. In other words, Romney is their choice, and they’re sticking to him.
Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney arrives at a Boys and Girls Club in Salem, N.H. on Thursday. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The latest Suffolk University/7News tracking poll of the New Hampshire primary shows 75 percent of Romney’s supporters say it’s unlikely they will change their mind, compared to around half of everyone else’s supporters. No other candidate’s supporters are as committed to their pick as Romney’s are.

Given that Romney leads with 41 percent of the vote overall, that means more than 30 percent of New Hampshire GOP primary voters say they are voting for Romney and they can’t see a reason why they would change their mind.

And that’s a steep hill for anybody to climb in a few days time.

Given that the GOP field still includes six candidates and that there doesn’t appear to be a clear singular alternative in New Hampshire, that 30 percent threshold makes it extremely unlikely that any other candidate will be able to catch him or even come close, barring some ground-breaking development that absolutely sinks Romney’s campaign.

What’s more, given that Ron Paul is likely going to take his customary 15-20 percent of the vote (he’s at 18 percent in the tracking poll), the universe of voters all of a sudden shrinks even further. That leaves Huntsman, Rick Santorum,and Newt Gingrich (Rick Perry has no hope here and isn’t trying) to essentially compete for 50 percent of the vote, 10 percent of which is already leaning towards Romney.

That’s not math that anybody wants to face.

As the Post’s polling team noted Thursday, Romney benefits in New Hampshire because the electorate includes many more moderates/independents and lots fewer evangelical voters.

But even among the most conservative voters, with whom Romney struggled in Iowa, he is doing just fine with them in New Hampshire. In fact, he takes a higher percentage of the vote from self-described conservatives (45 percent) than moderates (42 percent) and does better among tea party supporters (42 percent) than non-tea party supporters (37 percent).

He even beats Paul when it comes to young voters, whom the Texas congressman absolutely owned in Iowa. Romney leads Paul 39 percent to 26 percent among the 18-to-34-year-old demographic.

In other words, there just aren’t really any holes in Romney’s support in the Granite State. And that means that everybody else is almost surely playing for second place at this point.

Now, it’s still possible for Romney to win the state and lose the expectations game. But that’s a lot better than losing the state.

Huntsman nabs Globe endorsement: Another bit of good news for the former Utah governor, as the Boston Globe late Thursday endorsed his campaign.

In backing Huntsman, the Globe editorial board passes over its former home-state governor, Romney.

Though out-of-state, the Globe carries significant weight in New England. But it doesn’t pack the same punch as the New Hampshire Union Leader, which previously endorsed Gingrich and has been actively supporting his campaign — and criticizing his opponents.

Huntsman super PAC ups buy in N.H.: Huntsman’s supporters aren’t going to give up without a fight. The super PAC supporting his candidacy is increasing its buy in the Granite State by $300,000, according to a source.

The Our Destiny super PAC is also buying time in South Carolina — a demonstration that it will be ready if and when he comes away from New Hampshire with some momentum. The Palmetto State ad buy starts Monday, the day before New Hampshire’s primary.

The super PAC went up with a $300,000 ad buy earlier this week; the next $300,000 comes on top of that and brings the committee over $1.5 million in ad spending in New Hampshire.

The ad being run labels Romney a “chameleon” and casts Huntsman as the man to stop him.

Romney wins Iowa delegate count: Romney won the popular vote in the Iowa caucuses by eight votes, and he also won the delegate battle.

With 25 of the state’s 28 delegates at stake (three are the state’s RNC members, who can pick whomever they want), the AP reports Romney won 13 delegates and Santorum won 12. Paul, who finished a close third, was shut out.

Allocation of delegates to the Republican National Convention is not directly tied to vote totals, so the delegate breakdown was not known immediately after Tuesday’s caucuses.

The delegate battle only matters if at least two candidates make it to the convention. Paul’s supporters are aiming for a brokered convention, so the lack of delegates won is a setback.

Stabenow leads in Democratic poll: Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) leads former congressman Pete Hoekstra (R) by double digits and is over 50 percent in a head-to-head matchup, according to a new poll conducted for the Michigan Democratic Party.

The Greenberg Quinlan Rosner poll shows Stabenow at 52 percent and Hoekstra at 42 percent.

The poll was conducted in mid-December. A nonpartisan media poll in November showed Stabenow up by 6 percent.

Hoekstra faces a pretty well-funded primary first, though.

Fixbits:

ABC reports Santorum has raised $2 million in the last two days — a stunning pace — and is planning to buy air time in South Carolina.

Santorum moves into double digits in Gallup’s national tracking poll.

Santorum got some boos in New Hampshire for comparing homosexuality to polygamy.

Gingrich dips his toe into the issue of federal assistance for African-Americans. “I’m prepared if the NAACP invites me, I’ll go to their convention and talk about why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps,” Gingrich said. Santorum was previously accused of singling out African-Americans as receiving government assistance, but he has since denied it, and the audio casts doubt on whether he did.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) will return to the campaign trail for Romney, going to New Hampshire on Sunday.

Sarah Palin will deliver the keynote address at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning (R) is defending himself from charges that he funneled a $100,000 grant to a farm group to help his Senate campaign.

Former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack (D) raised more than $400,000 in the fourth quarter, continuing her strong fundraising performance in her challenge to Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa).

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) thinks he will face a recall election in June.

Must-reads:

Santorum experienced major jump in income after leaving Senate” — Carol D. Leonnig, Washington Post

Cuomo Productive and Popular, but Facing a Challenge in Remaining So” — Danny Hakim, New York Times

New Hampshire primary voters get up close and personal with GOP candidates” — David A. Fahrenthold, Washington Post

 
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