January 5, 2012 | By Lorna Aldrich | Lorna2@verizon.net
Mitt Romney’s thin win in the Jan. 3 Iowa Republican primary bounced him to 38% in a Jan. 4 New Hampshire poll, seven points above his New Year’s Day standing there, pollster John Zogby said at a Jan. 5 Newsmaker.
Rick Santorum gained four points to 11% while Ron Paul dropped one to 24% in the poll of 498 voters definitely or likely to vote in the New Hampshire Republican primary Jan. 10. JZ Analytics produced the poll, which has a margin of error of 4.5%, for the Washington Times.
Newt Gingrich fell six points to 9% and Jon Huntsman sank 4 points to 8%. Michelle Bachman dropped four points to zero while Rick Perry held steady at 1%.
Zogby analyzed the three-way finish in Iowa, where Romney and Santorum both polled 25 percent and Paul 21 percent, as reflecting three divergent groups in the Republican Party: traditionalists represented by Romney, social conservatives by Santorum and libertarians by Paul. The question for the Party is whether these groups can unite behind a single candidate, he said.
“The big winner in Iowa was Barack Obama,” he said.
The pollster identified significant questions surrounding each leading Republican candidate. According to Zogby, Romney faces an authenticity problem. Zogby quoted a friend as saying, “He’s the kid that never colored outside the lines.” Zogby added that Romney has not faced some personal crisis that would make voters feel he is “like us.” The pollster quipped, “This is one instance where a groping incident could actually help a candidate.”
Santorum, who has had a “free ride,” will face more scrutiny, Zogby predicted. Santorum is now in the worst position for a candidate in 2012, a front runner, said Zogby. According to him, the question will be whether Santorum will have “staying power.”
Paul drew support from independents and young people who are disenchanted with institutions, including the Republican Party, and they might be lost if he eventually backs a mainstream GOP candidate, Zogby said. He further considered the possibility that Paul could become a leader in a third party.
The pollster could see even fourth or fifth parties because “all that you need is an idea and a billionaire.”
He identified an “enthusiasm gap” in Iowa where voter turnout was the same as in 2008, despite anger in the three groups of Republicans. He also saw widespread cynicism and distrust of institutions throughout the country.
Hispanic voters pose another conundrum for Republicans, Zogby said, because Hispanics interpret statements against illegal immigration by Republicans as anti-Hispanic positions that could override other reasons for Hispanic support.