Romney up big, but Santorum gaining steam in latest NH poll

Mitt Romney continues to hold a substantial lead, with Rick Santorum earning only a modest bounce, in the latest WMUR/UNH poll of New Hampshire. 

But Santorum posted the biggest gain in support after his narrow second-place finish in the Iowa caucuses, making him a legitimate threat to Ron Paul's second-place finish in the Granite State.

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Romney has earned the support of 44 percent of likely voters in next Tuesday's first-in-the-nation primary, giving him more than double the support of his next closest competitor. Ron Paul's 20 percent represents the high point of his polling in the state, with Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich trailing with 8 percent. Jon Huntsman earned 7 percent of those polled, with Rick Perry and former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer each earning a lone percentage point.

Roughly one-third of those surveyed said they had not yet definitively decided on a candidate.

Those numbers are roughly in line with other recent polls of the state, but the university also split results before and after the Iowa caucuses.

There, Romney and Paul each showed slight declines, with the former Massachusetts governor losing three percentage points, from 46 percent to 43, and the former Texas congressman losing five, from 23 percent to 18. Much of that support swung to Santorum, who was polling at just 4 percent prior to his Iowa success, and drew 11 percent of supporters afterward. Newt Gingrich, who has adopted a more combative campaign strategy, also picked up momentum, edging up from 7 to 9 percent.

Still, the race looks to be securely in Romney's sight. More than three-quarters of New Hampshire voters — 77 percent — believe he will be the eventual winner of the primary. Nearly six in 10 voters in the state also believe he has the greatest chance of defeating President Obama.