Reality TV star Donald Trump may have ridden birtherism to national polls, but unfortunately for him the 2012 GOP primary is not a national contest. And in the country’s first primary state, The Donald is not playing well at all, according to fresh polling data.
Instead, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is poised to benefit from quasi-favored son status in neighboring New Hampshire, according to new polls released by Suffolk University and the University of New Hampshire. Suffolk found a commanding 35 percent favor Romney—better than four times as many as support any of the other potential or declared Republican prospects in the field. Likewise UNH had Romney's support at a virtually identical 36 percent, better than three times his next competitor.
Trump, meanwhile, is stuck in the second tier, with a mere 8 percent in the Suffolk poll and a slightly better 11 percent in the UNH survey. Joining Trump in Suffolk's second tier are former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Rep. Ron Paul in the second tier, each with 8 percent, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin takes 7 percent, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee 6 percent, and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty gets 5 percent. With the margin of error at +/-4.9 percent, that puts them all in a statistical dead heat behind Romney. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich each pull 3 percent, meaning that with the margin of error, they could actually be scoring negative support.
Palin does worse in UNH's poll, with only 4 percent supporting her, placing her behind Giuliani (7 percent), Hucakbee (6 percent), and Paul (6 percent), and on a par with Gingrich and Bachmann. (This despite Bachmann’s attempt to relocate the battles of Lexington and Concord from Massachusetts to New Hampshire.) Pawlenty and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels register at 2 percent.
In the Suffolk poll, Trump and Palin especially have high negative ratings from New Hampshirites, with the Celebrity Apprentice host viewed favorably by only 27 percent of Granite State GOPers, while 56 have an unfavorable impression of him. Palin has a 46 percent negative rating while 42 percent view her favorably. [Vote now: Will Trump seriously run for president?]
Romney’s not without vulnerabilities, however: 86 percent of those surveyed favored either repealing or modifying the universal healthcare mandate in President Obama’s healthcare law, though 53 percent of respondents said that they would not hold the universal mandate in Romney’s Massachusetts healthcare law against him. “New Hampshire Republicans tend to look at issues a bit differently than others in the country, so Romney’s not out of the woods on the health care issue,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. “But, given the influence of New Hampshire’s Presidential Primary and that independents and new voters who register at the polls may choose a Republican ballot, it’s beneficial to Mitt Romney that these voters are not holding his Massachusetts health care legacy against him.”