As New Hampshire is the traditional first primary state, the poll figures are significant, particularly as Rick Perry has plummeted to fifth place alongside Jon Huntsman, both of whom earned four percent. Mitt Romney who enjoys what amounts to "favorite son" status in New England continues to lead with support from 38 percent of those who were polled, followed by Herman Cain, with 20 percent approval.
Paul is trailed by Newt Gingrich, who received five percent. Behind Perry and Huntsman is Michele Bachmann, with three percent approval, followed by Gary Johnson and Rick Santorum, both tied with one percent.
Perrys fall was also documented by a WMUR Granite State Poll (WMUR is the ABC -affiliated television station in Manchester, New Hampshire), which revealed he had just four percent of GOP voters, placing him behind Huntsman, Paul, Cain, and Romney. In that poll, Romney remained far ahead with 37-percent support from likely Republican primary voters. A distant second in that poll was Herman Cain, with 12 percent, followed by Paul with 9 percent.
It seems that there is a new top tier. Just weeks ago, the top-tier candidates appeared to be Romney, Perry, and Paul, but recent revelations about Perrys less than conservative record have contributed to his decline. Likewise, his abysmal failures in the last few debates have precipitated his fall in the standings, though he showed some improvement in last nights performance.
According to the WMUR Granite State Poll, 68 percent of voters still have not decided which candidate they will support. WMUR noted: Pollster Andy Smith said this isnt surprising. He said primary voters typically wait until the end of the campaign to settle on a choice, so early poll numbers are a better gauge of a candidates popularity and visibility now than an indication of who[m] voters will eventually support.
That same poll revealed that just 11 percent of likely voters have firmly determined which candidate they will support in the primary, while 21 percent are leaning toward various candidates.
Poll respondents also evinced firm notions of whom they would not support in the race. WMUR reports:
Some voters said they would not support certain candidates under any circumstances. Palin was the least popular, with 23 percent of likely Republican voters declaring they would not support her. She was followed by Bachmann with 12 percent, Paul with 12 percent, Perry with 11 percent, Gingrich with 6 percent and Huntsman with 5 percent.
In addition to Perry, Bachmann has witnessed a sharp decline in popularity, falling from a plus-29 percent favorability to a minus-18 percent. In contrast, Cain has jumped from a plus-19 percent favorability to a plus-30 percent.
WMURs poll also showed Romney defeating Obama 50 to 42 percent, with Romney leading among Independents 48 to 30 percent.
Another significant finding in the Granite State poll is that 57 percent of Independents plan to vote in the Republican primary.
The polls give Ron Paul supporters renewed optimism as they continue to show that the Texas Congressman remains in third place. That, coupled with his big victory in this weekends Values Voter Summit straw poll, confirms Pauls top-tier status.
Yesterday's New Hampshire debate seemed to seal the positions for the top-tier candidates as well. According to CBS News, two of the three winners were among the top tier: Mitt Romney, who looked far more presidential than anyone else on stage, and Ron Paul, who had the aura of a truth teller particularly when he called for the repeal of Sarbanes-Oxley, which was done by the Republicans. CBS News also credited Paul with a well-delivered blow to Cain for his opposition to an audit of the Federal Reserve.
The debate underscored just how successful Paul has been throughout his campaign. He has long asserted that he is more concerned with getting his message out to voters and changing the talking points of the Republican Party than even securing the nomination. Last nights focus on the Federal Reserve, as well as on the failure of the government and leading economists to listen to the Austrian school of economics about how to fix the economy, all indicate just how successful Paul has been in delivering a powerful message which is finally reaching the Establishment.
As noted by Infowars.com, Paul has also successfully separated himself from all the other Republican candidates by his constitutionalist philosophies and his increasingly popular message of non-interventionism, peace, and liberty. And if Paul's message has not been received by all interested parties, his 30-second spot during last nights debate certainly made it clear. The commercial declared:
Ron Paul: A veteran with a plan to keep America secure. Protect America by securing our borders and rebuilding our defenses. Not by acting as the worlds policeman, spending trillions on nation-building overseas.
The Paul plan for security? Start protecting Americas borders. Stop wasting Americans money. Ron Paul. Restore America Now.
Paul's National Campaign Chairman Jesse Benton declared,
Ron Paul is the only Republican presidential candidate to put forth the notion that a strong national defense means ending destructive unconstitutional wars having an unclear connection to national security, ending costly state-building in regions where our presence is unwanted, and bringing hundreds of thousands of troops home to make America safer and cut overseas spending.
This ad will affirm Dr. Pauls standing as the best candidate to face issues pertaining to national security, all in the context of refocusing our efforts on protecting Americas borders and threats that might arrive on Americas soil, not foreign lands.