WASHINGTON – Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney would comfortably defeat President Barack Obama in New Hampshire in a hypothetical election today, according to a poll of likely voters released Friday.
The former Massachusetts governor would beat the president by 50 to 43 percent, says a new WMUR Granite State Poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center. Six percent aren't sure who they'd select.
Romney leads Obama 49 to 31 among independents, a critical voting bloc in the early swing state.
Obama trounced Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) by 10 points in New Hampshire in the 2008 election.
The poll found that Obama would defeat two other leading Republican hopefuls: former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (45-38 percent) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (46-42 percent).
The results suggest that Romney could be a formidable contender in the general election against Obama, were he to win the primary. Though his past record of moderate or liberal stances could hurt him, polls like this one could help him argue that he's the most electable of the GOP field.
The results could also reflect surging gas prices that have hurt Obama's popularity and a struggling economy that traditionally motivates voters to dislike the sitting president.
The WMUR poll surveyed 504 New Hampshire adults by telephone from April 15-26 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.