The New Hampshire Republican primary of 2012 may be a competitive race after all. In a shocking new Suffolk University/7NEWS poll released on Sunday, Ron Paul surged to 20 percent while Romney dropped to 35 percent.

The differential between the two candidates has now shrunk to 15 percentage points.

Previously, political pundits have all but written off every single Republican candidate not named Mitt Romney in the New Hampshire primary of 2012.

Romney dominated the Granite State’s poll early, pulling in:

41 percent on Jan. 1

43 percent on Jan. 2

43 percent on Tuesday

43 percent on Wednesday

41 percent on Thursday

40 percent on Friday

39 percent on Saturday

Paul, meanwhile, stayed in the teens while other candidates fared even worse.

Romney had the most money. He was the most credible anti-Obama candidate. He even scored the endorsement of 2008 rival John McCain, who won in New Hampshire that year.

Two days ago, McCain confidently predicted a New Hampshire win for Romney, reported

“It’s going to come down … to South Carolina… If Mitt Romney wins here, he will be the next president of the United States,” said McCain.

After the Iowa caucus on Tuesday, the Republican nomination race became a three-man contest amomg Romney, Paul and social conservative Rick Santorum.

Santorum, however, has no credible national strategy and lacks appeal outside of his evangelical base. The overall GOP race, therefore, was likely down to Paul and Romney, unless Newt Gingrich or Rick Perry can revive or Jon Huntsman can emerge.

A few days ago, it looked like New Hampshire might turn out to be a landslide victory for Romney and Paul would have to fight the war in South Carolina.

Now, it looks like the New Hampshire race may be a competitive one after all. The New Hampshire primary will be held on Tuesday.

(Image of Ron Paul below, from Reuters)

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