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Romney maintains strong lead in N.H.

 

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Mitt Romney remains the overwhelming favorite in New Hampshire with less than eight weeks to go before the first-in-the-nation primary, according to a new poll released Wednesday.

Forty percent of likely Republican primary voters named Romney as their choice in a nominee, according to a new Bloomberg News poll. But many voters also haven't made up their minds; 10 percent of voters are undecided.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul is in second, trailing Romney by 23 points, at 17 percent. Paul regularly hosts hundreds of supporters at campaign stops, and has been polling in the teens since this summer.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich comes in third place with 11 percent, a significant increase from other New Hampshire surveys this fall that had him polling in the single digits. It's good news for Gingrich, who just last week opened his state headquarters and hired several new staffers. Another addition to his Granite State team are expected this week, along with a roll out of a New Hampshire-centric volunteer platform.

Eight percent of Granite State voters expressed support for Herman Cain in the aftermath of sexual harassment allegations against him. Cain will return to New Hampshire on Thursday for what his campaign is calling a "major rally" with several hundred voters.

Huntsman, who last night hosted his 100th campaign stop in New Hampshire, garnered 7 percent, to slide into fifth place.

Other candidates all fell below 5 percent. Texas Governor Rick Perry, who is campaigning in the state today and has aired television advertisements for more than a week, fell to 3 percent. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann is polling at 2 percent and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum at 1 percent.

Bloomberg News surveyed 504 likely Republican primary voters by phone in New Hampshire from November 10-12. The margin of error is +/- 4.4 percent.

New Hampshire holds its primary on January 10, exactly one week after the Iowa caucuses.