Early on, Rick Perry was dubbed the “Teastablishment” candidate. This was why he was perceived as such a powerful threat to Romney. According to this view, Perry had the record and experience to satisfy party elites and the Tea Party credibility to please grassroots activists, and Romney was not supposed to be able to make significant inroads with the latter. At least in New Hampshire, that doesn’t seem to be true. A new Rasmussen New Hampshire poll puts Perry in second place 21 points behind Romney, but what is more interesting is that Romney narrowly leads Perry even among those who identify themselves as members of the Tea Party 30-26. Among all other groups except evangelicals, Romney runs away with the race. He has a 27-point lead among mainline Protestants, a 28-point lead among Catholics, and a huge 44-point lead among voters 65+. Perry is shaping up to be the same kind of regional, evangelical candidate that Huckabee was.
Ron Paul continues to outperform his polling from the previous cycle, and his 13% in New Hampshire is a definite improvement over the 8% he received in the 2008 primary. Especially as Bachmann continues to fade, Paul has a reasonably good chance to finish in the top three in Iowa, and a very good chance to do the same in New Hampshire. As in the Suffolk poll, Paul draws more support from moderates (15%) than conservatives. He runs second among independents (19%), and he has a remarkably strong showing among 30-39 year olds (23%), which is one demographic that he wins outright. It makes sense. This is the cohort that came of age during the Bush years, and many of them are understandably appalled by the GOP they have known for the last decade.