Saturday, January 22, 2011

Romney Takes New Hampshire GOP Straw Poll

Former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney, won Saturday's straw poll of New Hampshire Republicans by a more than three to one margin over his next closest competitor, Texas representative, Ron Paul. In a crowded field of candidates, Romney emerged with 35% of the vote (273 total votes cast of the 493 members in attendance -- 55% turnout) and won despite Tea Party-aligned state party chair candidate, Jack Kimball, winning that race. In other words, even with some Tea Party atmosphere to the proceedings, Romney -- not necessarily a favorite of the movement that grew from the grassroots up following President Obama's victory in the 2008 election -- won and did so by a margin that largely reflects what polls of the early primary state have shown.

Mitt Romney: 35%
Ron Paul: 11%
Tim Pawlenty: 8%
Sarah Palin: 7%
Michelle Bachmann: 5%
Jim DeMint: 5%
Herman Cain: 4%
Chris Christie: 3%
Rick Santorum: 3%
Mitch Daniels: 3%
Newt Gingrich: 3%
Mike Huckabee: 3%
Mike Pence: 3%
Rudy Giuliani: 2%
Judd Gregg: 2%
Gary Johnson: 2%
Other: 2%
Donald Trump: 1%
Haley Barbour: 1%
Jon Huntsman: ~1% 0*
John Thune: ~1% 0*

There isn't much to read into this other than the Romney-Tea Party angle discussed above. The fact that 220 members opted to sit on the sidelines is noteworthy, but may only indicate that it is still a little too early.

*I just got a nice email from James Pindell, the political director from WMUR, the station which held the straw poll vote. Jon Huntsman and John Thune not only got less than 1% of the straw poll vote, they each got 0 votes. That correction has been made in the results above.

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Anonymous said...

I think you understate the extent to which people who vote in straw polls are unrepresentative of the actual electorate.

Think about it. The last Magellan poll had Palin and Huckabee at 16 and 10%. Today, they are at 7 and 3%. Rudy Giuliani is getting more than 2% in New Hampshire if he runs.

The fact that Kimball and romney won the straw poll tells you nothing about how actual "tea partiers" who don't vote in straw polls would view the contest. Remember that New Hampshire is one of the most pro-abortion Republican electorates in the country. A majority of Republicans are pro-abortion so the state is in no way representative of the Republican electorate nationally.

Josh Putnam said...

Of course this is unrepresentative of the primary electorate. The independents that will turnout in New Hampshire next year were nowhere to be found today.

I think the point I'm trying to make on the results today is that they mirrored a lot of earlier polls of the state -- and surprisingly so in my opinion -- in terms of Mitt Romney's edge over the field, not individual candidates. The straw poll results are a snapshot of a very exclusive segment of the New Hampshire Republican Party much less the New Hampshire primary electorate. I don't think they tell us much of anything. The fact that, as I noted, nearly half of the voters sat the vote out is more noteworthy to me than anything else.

There are different flavors of Tea Party out there. Again, I'm not saying that these results reflect the national Tea Party, nor am I saying that they reflect the New Hampshire Tea Party. I'm merely saying that some segment of that movement was represented today, yet Romney still won comfortably. The Tea Party presence can be seen rather quickly in looking at who placed second.

The bottom line is that this straw poll just doesn't tell us that much. It is simply too early.

Anthony said...

"I'm merely saying that some segment of that movement was represented today, yet Romney still won comfortably. The Tea Party presence can be seen rather quickly in looking at who placed second."

Good point, considering Ron Paul probably isn't even going to run. Another way to gauge Tea Party support at this level in NH is to add up the 'Tea Party' candidates' percentages:

Ron Paul + Sarah Palin + Michele Bachmann + Jim DeMint + Herman Cain (say) = 11 + 7 + 5 + 5 + 4 = 32%.