EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire Elections

January 10, 2012

GOP candidates jockey for position in N.H.

Recent polls show a wild finish shaping up for the New Hampshire primary.

"It sure looks that way," said Robert Letourneau, a former state senator from Derry. "I think the race is for second and third. I think it's very tight. Your guess is as good as mine."

The neck-and-neck race is charging up campaign supporters.

"Oh, yeah," said Rep. Donna Mauro, R-Windham, said, pleased to learn her pick, Congressman Ron Paul of Texas, was running second.

In one poll, Paul was closing the gap against Letourneau's man, front-runner former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

"That's awesome," Mauro said. "I'd like to see Ron Paul number one."

There's almost no doubt about the winner. Romney is in command and ready to claim victory tonight, though some observers say a smaller-than-expected margin of victory for him could change the complexion of the GOP nominating race.

The real suspense is over what happens down the ballot as the contestants vie to keep their hopes alive for the Republican nomination.

"All of the candidates below Romney have a good chance of finishing anywhere between second and fifth place," University of New Hampshire pollster Andy Smith said.

The final UNH/WMUR-TV poll had Romney at 41 percent, Paul at 17 percent, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. tied at 11 percent, then former House speaker Newt Gingrich at 8 percent.

But the poll's margin of error, plus or minus 4.6 percent, means at the end of today Gingrich could be number two and Paul could drop to fifth.

Suffolk University/7News, in weekend polling released yesterday, had Romney at 33 percent, Paul at 20, Huntsman at 13, Gingrich at 11 and Santorum at 10. The poll had a margin of error of 4.4 percent.

In Rockingham County, Suffolk polling had Romney at 37 percent, Paul at 16, Huntsman at 14, Gingrich at 10 and Santorum at 8.

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