Suffolk University is out with a poll showing Mitt Romney in the lead with 41 percent, 27 points ahead of the nearest challenger in the New Hampshire primary race. The closest contender is Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) at 14 percent, followed by Jon Huntsman at percent. Texas Gov. Rick Perry is behind those two at 8 percent. The GOP front-runner is barely ahead of Rep. Michele Bachmann (5 percent) and Newt Gingrich (4 percent). Interestingly, 55 percent of those surveyed favor repeal of ObamaCare, but that hasn’t slowed Romney, who’s been slammed for ObamaneyCare.
Does this poll mean much? Well, Romney had a big lead in New Hampshire in 2007 for months but still lost to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the 2008 primary. That said, Perry’s lack of appeal there is allowing Romney free rein. Romney is in many ways the ideal candidate for that contest, while Perry is a bad match. His poor standing, if duplicated in other non-southern states without a preponderance of Christian conservatives (Michigan, Nevada, Arizona, etc.), will be a significant problem for him.
This week we also saw a poll showing Perry’s lead in South Carolina slipping to a mere 3 points over Romney. If Perry can’t hang in there he’s certainly in a heap of trouble. Moreover, if Romney can stay tight in Perry’s must-win states (Iowa, South Carolina) and clean up elsewhere, he will be on track to win the nomination.
No one should get too excited about September primary polls. Nevertheless, if the polls generally look like this in a month or so, Perry should worry and consider whether he needs to broaden his appeal.