According to an American Research Poll released Monday, former governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney still maintains a commanding double-digit lead over his GOP rivals in New Hampshire. The Hill reports:
Romney is polling at 33 percent in the Granite State, followed by Newt Gingrich at 22 percent, Ron Paul at 12 percent, Herman Cain at 9 percent, Jon Huntsman at 8 percent, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann at 2 percent each, and Gary Johnson, Buddy Roemer and Rick Santorum at 1 percent each.
The Romney campaign got a scare last week when a New Hampshire Journal poll had Gingrich in a statistical tie with Romney, who was expected to carry the state with ease. The NHJ poll is widely considered to be an outlier, as most other polls show Romney with a commanding lead in that first-in-the-nation primary.
What’s worth mentioning, however, is that in spite of his purported ties to disgraced mortgage giant Freddie Mac, Newt Gingrich is now the frontrunner in several national polls and is soaring in New Hampshire. For the moment, he has established himself as the fourth top tier anti-Romney candidate this primary season – following Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Herman Cain, respectively – and has leaped 18 percentage points in the Granite State in less than two months.
Nonetheless, what is strikingly different about these new polling numbers is that no other Republican candidate has come within 11 percentage points of Mitt Romney in New Hampshire – excluding the NJH poll conducted last week – since Michele Bachmann last June. Interestingly, even at the height of Herman Cain’s popularity before allegations of sexual harassment surfaced – he still trailed the Massachusetts governor by 15 percentage points.
In short, while some Republicans may find the former Speaker of the House personally repugnant or unelectable, Gingrich’s candidacy is palpably resonating with voters across the nation. In fact, for the first time in months, a candidate is posing a significant threat to Mitt Romney’s frontrunner status in New Hampshire. And considering a chalked up loss in the Granite State would undoubtedly reduce Romney’s chances of winning the Republican nomination – Gingrich should, in my view, be ready for an increasingly vitriolic and spirited campaign against him in the critical weeks ahead.