The GOP primary race in New Hampshire looks like a runaway for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney so far, based on the first Rasmussen Reports primary poll in the Granite State this political cycle.
The poll, based on a survey of 750 likely GOP voters conducted Sept. 21, shows Romney with a commanding lead at 39 percent of the vote. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has 18 percent, and Texas Congressman Ron Paul is holding down the No. 3 spot at 13 percent.
Other than Romney’s commanding position, the survey’s most notable finding was the growing strength of former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, a centrist with a strong appeal to the GOP’s establishment elements.
Huntsman placed fourth with 7 percent in the poll, which was released Friday. That confirms the rising strength in New Hampshire that he has demonstrated in other recent polls in New Hampshire.
Huntsman is reportedly betting almost all his chips on New Hampshire, embarking on what some analysts have described as a one-state strategy. His emerging strength is thought to be bad news for Romney, because the two tend to appeal to the same segment of the GOP base.
While Huntsman remains a longshot in New Hampshire, if he continues to surge it could open the door to an upset by Perry or one of the other GOP contenders, pundits say.
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann won support of 5 percent of respondents. She has largely overlooked the Granite State in favor of campaigning hard in Iowa, where she won the Ames Straw poll.
Georgia businessman and talk host Herman Cain tied former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Each earned 4 percent of the vote in that poll, which has a 4 percent margin of error.
The Iowa Caucuses fall about a week before the New Hampshire primary.
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