(Photo: Reuters/Brian Snyder)
A new poll conducted by Suffolk University in New Hampshire shows Mitt Romney maintaining a strong lead in the Republican presidential race with 41 percent support. Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich are tied for a distant second place with 14 percent each.
Former Massachusetts Governor Romney and Texas Congressman Paul are at the same point they were two months ago, the last time Suffolk University polled New Hampshire voters who are likely to vote in the presidential primary.
Former Speaker of the House Gingrich has shown the most movement. He was only at four percent two months ago.
The results show Gingrich further behind than a poll released last week by NH Journal/Magellan Strategies showing Gingrich tied with Romney for the lead in New Hampshire.
Romney drew support from those who described their ideology as moderate or liberal. Gingrich had stronger support among conservatives and Paul had stronger support among liberals. Twenty-seven percent of liberals and 42 percent of moderates supported Romney. Gingrich had the support of 44 percent of conservatives and Paul had the support of 19 percent of liberals.
Though a small state, New Hampshire plays an important role in the Republican nomination because it will hold the first primary election on Jan. 10, 2012. (The first nomination contest is the Iowa caucus on Jan. 3, 2012.)
In single digits were former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman (nine percent), former Godfather's CEO Herman Cain (eight percent), Rick Santorum (three percent), Rick Perry (two percent), Michele Bachmann (one percent), Buddy Roemer (one percent) and Fred Karger (one percent).
Nine percent of respondents were undecided and 52 percent said they were “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to change their mind.
Gingrich has come on strong in the past month partly due to his strong performances in the debates. When asked, “which Republican candidate would do best against Barack Obama in a debate?” Gingrich and Romney were tied for the lead at 34 percent.
When asked if the candidates were “presidential,” 83 percent said Romney was presidential, and 52 percent said Gingrich was presidential. For all the other candidates, less than half of the respondents said they were presidential.
Respondents were also asked why they think Romney's support does not rise above 25 percent. Twenty-seven percent said they do not know. The second most frequent response (16 percent) was those who said it had to do with Romney's Mormon faith.
The poll of 400 likely Republican primary voters was conducted on Nov. 16-20 and has a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percentage points.