The leaders of the New Hampshire Republican Party have spoken, and they have given Mitt Romney the early presidential lead in the Granite State. In the first-of-its-kind straw poll of members of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee, Romney drew 35% of the total vote. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) came in second with 11%.
[TPM SLIDESHOW: Meet The 2012 GOPers: Ex Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA)]
The straw poll was conducted in Derry, NH and was sponsored by ABC News and WMUR-TV.
ABC News political director Amy Walter tweeted the results of the poll this afternoon:
Romney wins WMUR/ABC GOP NH straw poll w/ 35%. Paul at 11%; Tpaw at 8%; Palin at 7%: Bachmann at 5%
None of the candidates listed above are officially running for president, though Romney, Paul, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Sarah Palin and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) have all been mentioned as potential contenders. Romney, Pawlenty and to a lesser extent Palin have all been engaged in open campaigning for months.
From Walter’s analysis of the results:
The takeaway: Romney’s still the solid frontrunner here, but there’s plenty of room for another Republican to break through here. Pawlenty’s showing was also impressive, given how new he is to the scene. He has, however, been working New Hampshire, as have his supporters.
Walters notes the straw poll is “by no means a scientific sample, but it was a good early canvass of the sentiments of the state’s most active Republican voters.”
Update: The top 10 results from the straw poll are below. For the complete totals, see WMUR’s website:
Mitt Romney 35.14%
Ron Paul 10.51%
Tim Pawlenty 7.61%
Sarah Palin 6.88%
Michele Bachmann 5.07%
Jim DeMint 5.07%
Herman Cain 3.99%
Chris Christie 3.26%
Rick Santorum 3.26%
Mitch Daniels 2.90%
The 273 members of the New Hampshire GOP who participated in the straw poll were also asked to name the top issue for the next Republican presidential nominee to tackle. The top 5 results:
Reducing the size of the federal government: 49%
Reducing the size of federal debt/deficit: 15%
Stimulating the economy to create jobs: 14%
Repealing health care: 7%
“Stopping gay marriage” and “outlawing abortion” both received around 1% of the vote.