A new American Research Group poll of New Hampshire shows Michele Bachmann jumping 11% since April.
1. Mitt Romney 29%
2. Michele Bachmann 12%
3. Rudy Giuliani 9%
4. Sarah Palin 8%
5. Newt Gingrich 7%
6. Tim Pawlenty 5%
7. Ron Paul and Herman Cain 4%
9. Rick Perry and Rick Santorum 2%
11. Jon Huntsman *
a. Early polls matter. It's chic to say that early polls don't matter because they're often not predictive of the ultimate outcome. But they do matter to a) candidates thinking about getting in the race (e.g. Rick Perry and Sarah Palin) b) donors who want to support a winner c) consultants who sign on and d) showing the arc of a race.
The arc of the past month is clear. Michele Bachmann is the first genuine '12 contender to surge. In April, she scored 1% in New Hampshire. Now she's at 12%. She could flame out, but that 12% means something significant for July 14, 2011. It's a 12% that everyone is noticing; therefore, it matters.
b. Jon Huntsman is a star. Or wait, is that an asterisk? ARG put a star/asterisk in Huntsman's column, because he didn't meet the 1% threshold.
Here's another thing. Those vaunted indies -- which make up 30% of the sample -- also give Huntsman an asterisk. Obviously, he'll rise, but he's going to need a really boffo performance among indies (as he's admitted) to win.
To be fair, PPP released a survey last week showing him with 6% of the vote, so that's some wild variance -- more on that later down.
c. Gingrich is surprisingly high. In a 7% kind of way. But seriously, to whom will his support eventually bleed, if bleed it does? I don't get a sense for the profile of an average Newt voter. Regnery Publishing employees?
d. Context. PPP released a poll last week, showing a much closer race in New Hampshire, although the fundamentals hadn't changed. Romney was still first; Bachmann second -- though with a smaller gap betwixt the two.
WMUR also released a survey last week, showing the same fundamentals. Romney #1; Bachmann #2.
You know what this means? That Romney/Bachmann ticket talk will amp up.