Former Massachusetts governor and two-time presidential contender Mitt Romney leads the Republican field of potential White House candidates by a double-digit margin in early-primary state New Hampshire – snagging the support of 30 percent of voters, a new poll showed Monday.
According to the Bloomberg Politics/Saint Anselm survey,
Romney leads all other possible GOP contenders by nearly 20 points, with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul coming in second, at 11 percent, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie sits in third at 9 percent and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush fourth at 8 percent. Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, Romney's running mate in 2016, is tied for sixth with 5 percent of the vote.
The margin of error was plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.
Despite Romney's frequent denials
of 2016 presidential ambitions, the poll shows there's still plenty of interest in the Granite State, where Romney won the 2012 New Hampshire primary.
When Romney's name is off the potential list of GOP possibles, Paul and Christie share the lead at 16 percent, with Bush in third at 14 percent and Dr. Ben Carson, a retired Detroit neurosurgeon, in fourth at 9 percent.
Carson polled higher than the 8 percent received by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, 7 percent for 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, 5 percent for Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, 4 percent for Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and 3 percent for Texas Governor Rick Perry.
"Some of that is Rand Paul and a lot of it is Ron Paul," Tom Rath, former New Hampshire attorney general, told Bloomberg News.
Paul's father, Ron Paul, finished second in the 2012 New Hampshire primary.
"He inherits a substantial block of voters from his father," Rath said.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton leads all potential candidates by a mile. At 62 percent, the former secretary of State has a 46-point edge on Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who received 16 percent of the vote, the survey showed.
Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders is third at 6 percent, with Vice President Joe Biden comes in fourth with 5 percent.
When asked their pick in a hypothetical general election, Clinton also leads potential Republican candidates — but is only ahead of Romney by 1 percentage point, 46 percent to 45 percent, the survey showed.
The National Journal notes
Romney's not likely to run.
But if "everyone else implodes," one former adviser
told the outlet in October, Romney could be lined up to save the election for the party.
"As an establishment favorite, he could be drafted to unite the GOP should the others crash and burn," National Journal speculates.
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