Mitt Romney would have a wide lead in the 2016 Republican presidential primary in New Hampshire if the contest were held today -- and he would give Hillary Clinton a run for her money in the Granite State if he ran, according to a Bloomberg Politics/Saint Anselm New Hampshire poll released Monday. The former Massachusetts governor, who lost to President Barack Obama in 2012, has long maintained that he won’t run for president again despite a grassroots effort for a 2016 bid.
At 30 percent of New Hampshire primary voters, Romney had nearly three times as much support as the second potential 2016 candidate on the list, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. No other possible GOP presidential candidate cracked double digits. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie polled at 9 percent, ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush had 8 percent and Dr. Ben Carson, the retired conservative neurosurgeon, received 6 percent. Three other possible 2016 GOP candidates -- former Arkansas Gov. and Fox News host Mike Huckabee, ex-2012 GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas -- each polled at 5 percent. At the bottom of the pack were Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
The former governor of Massachusetts, a state that borders New Hampshire, also had the highest popularity among potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates, the poll showed. Romney won the New Hampshire GOP primary in 2012 over then-Texas Congressman Ron Paul. Nearly 80 percent of those polled had a favorable view of Romney, compared with just 21 percent who had an unfavorable view.
On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton holds a commanding lead among possible presidential candidates at 62 percent. Clinton has nearly five times as much support as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 13 percent. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., was in third with 6 percent. He was followed by Vice President Joe Biden at 5 percent, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick at 2 percent and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley at 1 percent.
If the 2016 presidential race were held today, a hypothetical Romney-Clinton race would be a statistical dead heat, with Clinton leading 46 percent to 45 percent, according to the poll, with 9 percent undecided. Clinton has a larger lead over Rand Paul, 48 percent to 41 percent, and an 8-point advantage over Bush, 47 percent to 49 percent.
The Bloomberg Politics/Saint Anselm New Hampshire Poll surveyed 989 likely 2016 general election voters in New Hampshire between Nov. 12-18. It has a 4.4 percent margin of error.