The first survey from a collaboration of the Harvard and St. Anselm New Hampshire Institutes of Politics shows Mitt Romney maintains a big lead over his next closest competitor Herman Cain, 38% to 20%. Ron Paul, at 13%, is the only other candidate in double-digits.
The rest of the field is mired in the low single digits: Newt Gingrich 5%, Jon Huntsman 4%, Rick Perry 4%, Michelle Bachmann 3%, Gary Johnson 1%, Rick Santorum 1% and 11% remain undecided.
In every poll since the race started last spring, Romney has maintained a large lead polling anywhere from 30%-40% while second place has changed several times from Bachmann in June, Perry in August just after he announced, Ron Paul in September, and now Herman Cain holds the runner up spot. This is the second survey within the last 7 days showing Cain gaining momentum.
One concerning figure for Romney, however, is a question asking voters if they prefer a candidate that best matches their ideology and beliefs, or a candidate who has the best chance of defeating Obama. Only 29% want a candidate who has the best chance to beat Obama, while a resounding 62% of voters want a candidate who matches their ideology and beliefs. Romney is the one Republican candidate who has most consistently led Obama in New Hampshire and nationally.
In addition to his second place showing, another strong statistic for Cain is his strength with voters who associate with the Tea Party, almost 50% of those polled. Cain leads Romney 30%-29%.
NH Journal will be releasing new survey results at the end of this week.