Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney would have a whopping, 22-point lead over the next-best theoretical GOP challenger in New Hampshire’s 2016 Republican primary, according to a new poll from WMUR.
The poll found that New Hampshire voters are “very” undecided, which helps Romney as the recognised candidate who has already run for president twice.
But if the election were held today, 39% of Republican voters in New Hampshire would vote for Romney. Next on the list are U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who each only garner 7% of the vote. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is behind them with 6%.
Here’s a chart of what the pollsters call “The Romney Effect”:
The poll comes amid renewed urging of Romney to enter into the 2016 race. Off and on since the debut of his Netflix documentary, “Mitt,” speculation about a possible third Romney run has popped up. Romney has taken an active role in supporting Republican candidates in this year’s midterm elections, and he has steadily criticised the Obama administration — particularly on issues of foreign policy.
Last week, former assistant Treasury secretary Emil Henry made the case for a Romney run in 2016, and a recent Quinnipiac poll found 45% of respondents think the country would be better off if he had been elected president in 2012.
And earlier this week, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), an early 2012 Romney supporter, said he thinks the governor will run again.
“I think he actually is going to run for president. He probably doesn’t want me to say that,” Chaffetz said during an interview on MSNBC’s “Hardball” Monday night.
“A hundred times he says he’s not, but Mitt Romney has always accomplished what he’s set out to do. I think he’s [been] proven right on a lot of stuff. I happen to be in the camp that thinks he’s actually going to run, and I think he will be the next president of the United States.”
Despite the speculation outside Romney’s circle, Romney himself has repeatedly brushed aside any notion he’ll run in two years. When asked by The New York Times earlier this year about the possibility of another run, he famously repeated the word “no” 11 times.
If, as expected, Romney does not run, the Republican field is wide open in New Hampshire. Without Romney’s name in the race, 19% of Republican primary voters said they would vote for Christie. Next up were Paul (14%), Bush (11%), and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (8%).
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