Monday, October 10, 2011

Perry plummets in New Hampshire

A new Harvard/St. Anslem poll shows Rick Perry pulling in just 4% in a New Hampshire GOP primary.

1. Mitt Romney 38%

2. Herman Cain 20%

3. Ron Paul 13%

4. Newt Gingrich 5%

5. Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman 4%

7. Michele Bachmann 3%

8. Gary Johnson and Rick Santorum 1%

Key take-aways:

a. Confirms Perry's fall.

Last week, a WMUR poll also showed Perry with just 4%, and losing to Huntsman, Paul, Cain, and Romney.

b. Perry and Huntsman's spins.

Here's how they can spin their awful performances in this poll.

Perry can say: Look, I'm doing as well as Huntsman, who's supposed to do really well in New Hampshire.

Meanwhile, Huntsman can say: Look, I'm doing as well as Perry, who's the co-frontrunner in the nomination contest.

Both would be right, but both would be wrong that there's any good news in this poll for them.

Here's how bad they're doing: Huntsman's unfavorable rating is 4% higher than Romney's and his favorable rating is 46% lower. Perry, meanwhile, has a +2% favorable rating, while Romney's is +54%.

Also, how bad they're doing: Herman Cain performs 5x better than each of them, Ron Paul nearly 3x better, and even Newt Gingrich edges them.

Romney has to love this. Cain will have trouble winning unless his October surprise is that he was Texas' governor for the past 8 years and that he's also related to the Rockefellers and Curt Schilling. Paul can't win because his ceiling is too low. Yet they're Romney's closest competitors, by far, right now.

c. Why Romney's lead is even stronger than it looks.

Nationally, poll-after-poll shows Republicans would rather have someone who can beat Obama than someone who strictly agrees with them.

But that number is completely flipped in New Hampshire. By 33%, those polled want someone with similar ideology over someone who can beat Obama.

If Romney is leading by 18% with that kind of electorate, he's in great shape.

d. The caveat to the caveat.

There's a lot of chatter today about the fact that just 10% of Romney's supporters say they're "definitely" voting for him. That sounds weak, except that only 6% of Cain's supporters say the same about their guy, and it falls from there. In other words, relatively-speaking, Romney is in very good shape in the "definite" voter category.

e. Tea Party vote.

Cain and Romney split it, 30%-29%, respectively. Perry picks up just 5%. The big question is whether Cain and Perry can continue to splinter tea partiers. That's unlikely, in my mind, as serious questions about Cain's seriousness continue to dog him.