Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) has a wide lead in New Hampshire against the field of GOP candidates considering a run for president, a poll released Wednesday shows.
If the New Hampshire primary were held today, 36 percent of likely GOP voters in the first-in-the-nation primary state would choose Romney, according to the latest WMUR Granite State poll.
Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (R), who has not ruled out a run, places third at 7 percent and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) tie for fourth at 6 percent.
The poll shows Romney, the front-runner in most national polls, in a relatively strong position as the campaign season is beginning to heat up. Romney finished second in the New Hampshire GOP primary in 2008 and is looking to make a big splash there in 2012 to kick-start his campaign.
Romney's numbers are bolstered by his sky-high favorability rating: 70 percent of likely GOP primary voters view him favorably compared to 21 percent who see him unfavorably, giving him a net rating of +49 percent. Giuliani has the next highest rating at +30 percent, and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty places third with +26 percent.
Meanwhile, the poll does not bode well for former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, who is seriously considering entering the GOP field. Less than 1 percent say they would vote for Huntsman, who is also looking to make a big move in New Hampshire, should he enter the race.
But numbers in the poll show that there is still a lot of room for movement and that Romney's strong position is far from permanent.
Only 5 percent of likely GOP primary voters say they have definitely decided whom they will vote for compared to 79 percent who say they are still deciding.
Undeclared voters, who can choose which primary to vote in, could also swing the direction of the race: 48 percent say they plan to vote in the Republican primary, with the incumbent President Obama running on the Democratic side.
Those numbers could boost support for potential candidates with low name recognition like Huntsman (71 percent do not know who he is), Pawlenty (46 percent) and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (62 percent).
The poll is based on the results of telephone interviews conducted between April 15-May 2, specifically from a sample of 416 likely GOP primary voters in New Hampshire. The margin of error for the sample is 4.8 percentage points.