New Hampshire flirts with Mitt Romney resurgence in 2016

Mitt Romney speaks with Scott Brown in Stratham, N.H., July 2, 2014.
Mitt Romney speaks with Scott Brown in Stratham, N.H., July 2, 2014.

A new poll from the Granite State shows that voters may not be over Mitt Romney. 

The 2012 Republican presidential nominee and former Massachusetts governor polled well ahead of all other Republican candidates in a new survey sponsored by WMUR-TV and conducted by the University of New Hampshire, despite the fact that he’s said repeatedly that he has no plans to run for president again.

The results suggest there is a strong desire among mainstream Republicans for a business-friendly moderate to enter the campaign.

If Romney decided to run in 2016, 39% of likely New Hampshire Republican voters said they’d support him for the party nomination. The two runners-up, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, scored just 7% each of the electorate. 

Every four years, New Hampshire hosts the first primary election of the presidential election. While Iowa’s caucuses date earlier, it’s New Hampshire that has a proven track record of predicting eventual GOP nominees. Romney won there in 2012 by a double-digit margin.

The poll surveyed 669 New Hampshire adults by landline and cellphone between June 19th and July 1st, just ahead of Romney’s return to the state to endorse a Republican candidate for Senate, Scott Brown.

Romney endorsed Brown on the very farm he announced his failed 2012 bid for the White House three years ago, reiterating that he was just there to help the former Massachusetts senator.

“I’ve got a bug to help Scott, that’s about it,” he said.  

Still, the Romney speculation continues to rage.

Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz, for instance, believes Romney will run again.

“I think he actually is going to run for president. He probably doesn’t want me to say that. A hundred times he says he’s not, but Mitt Romney has always accomplished what he has set out to do,” Chaffetz said on msnbc earlier this week. A recent Quinnipiac poll found that 45% of voters thought the country would be better off today with Romney at the helm.

Still, many voters in New Hampshire are undecided. Regardless of a Romney run, 20% of voters said they weren’t decided on which party they’d vote for, while a plurality of voters, 41%, said they’d vote a Democratic ticket.

As in most other recent polls, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dominated the Democratic field, with 63% of likely voters in a New Hampshire Democratic primary saying they’d vote for her.