New Hampshire Republicans prefer Donald Trump, the eccentric real estate tycoon and reality television host, over all but one other candidate for the party’s presidential nomination, according to a new PPP poll of registered voters.
Only Mitt Romney topped Trump in the poll, doing so by a six-point margin. However, that margin is far less than the leads Romney posted in previous polls that did not include Trump, polls in which Romney bested the next closest contender by as much as 30 points.In the poll, 27% of respondents said Romney was their top choice, while 21% went with Trump. Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee tied for third at 12% each, followed by Ron Paul (9%) and Sarah Palin (7%).
Romney has dominated polls of the New Hampshire primary for months, likely buoyed by a semi-home field advantage from his time as governor of nearby Massachusetts.
When PPP last polled the race in October, Romney topped the field at a robust 40%, well ahead of second place finisher Huckabee’s 13%. Romney led by similarly large margins in a February Granite state poll (30 points) and a Magellan Strategies poll from January (23 points.)
Trump has stepped up his campaign rhetoric in recent weeks, hitting talk shows and, in an appeal to birthers, asking to see President Obama’s birth certificate. That conspiracy talk seems to have worked for him in New Hampshire, as he garnered the most support from birthers among the slate of GOP candidates tested in the poll. Twenty-two percent of voters who questioned Obama’s citizenship broke for Trump in the poll, more than the 21% who went for Romney.
In releasing the poll’s findings, PPP President Dean Debnam said that the results appear to make Trump a legitimate candidate.
“Mitt Romney’s looked like the runaway favorite in all of our New Hampshire polling to
date,” the poll’s release quoted Debnam as saying. “Donald Trump’s the first
person to hold him to a single digit lead. He really could prove to be a serious candidate
if he gets into the race.”
The PPP poll was conducted March 31 to April 4 among 384 Republican voters in New Hampshire. It has a margin of error of 5.0%.