Romney poised for double-digit NH win

Two polls released on Tuesday show Mitt Romney is poised to win the New Hampshire primary by a resounding margin.

Polls from the American Research Group and Suffolk University both have Romney leading the rest of the GOP field by 19 points. 

“Mitt Romney may beat his closest competitor by a two- to-one margin,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center, in a statement. “With two solid debate performances, Romney weathered the storm earlier this week, while no opponent made a serious run at him.”

Romney took 37 percent of support in both polls. Jon Huntsman came in second in the ARG poll with 18 percent, followed by Ron Paul at 17 percent, Rick Santorum at 11 percent, Newt Gingrich at 10 percent and Rick Perry at 1 percent. 

The results of the Suffolk poll were similar, but with Paul coming in second at 18 percent, followed by Huntsman at 16 percent, Santorum at 11 percent, Gingrich at 9 percent and Perry and Buddy Roemer with 1 percent each.

If Romney wins on Tuesday, he would be the first non-incumbent to triumph in Iowa and New Hampshire — a feat that could deliver an early KO to the rest of the Republican field.  

Much of the focus Tuesday night will be on who finishes second.

Huntsman has staked his campaign on New Hampshire, and some believe he could duplicate Santorum’s surprise performance in Iowa by making a last-minute run at Romney.

Huntsman has concentrated all of his resources on the Granite State, and seems to be generating buzz at just the right time. Now in second place with 18 percent in the ARG poll, Huntsman was languishing in fifth place at 8 percent in the same poll in November.

Still, the polling data points toward an easy victory for Romney. The former Massachusetts governor leads among Republicans in New Hampshire by 31 percent over his next closest rival, according to ARG, and is tied with Huntsman for first among Independents. 

Huntsman also did well among Independents in the Suffolk poll, taking 26 percent, but again struggled with registered Republicans at only 9 percent.

Independents will be critical to the Huntsman campaign if he hopes to do well on Tuesday. 

“The battle for second place will be determined by which candidate has the best field organization to bring out the votes today,” Paleologos said. “A good get-out-the-vote-operation accounts for up to 5 points, which can impact an expected outcome.” 

Santorum, a near winner in the Iowa caucuses, has been unable to sustain his momentum into New Hampshire. He said on Tuesday that “it would be a dream” to place second in the Granite State.

—This story was first posted at 9:36 a.m. and has been updated.