The catch goes to Harry Enton, who read a brand new New Hampshire poll released last night and noticed that “Obama has a higher favorable (22%) than Perry (18%) among GOP primary voters.” Yikes! Yeah, the respondents in this Suffolk U poll include a lot of independents – actually, the GOP/independent split is 59/41. Still, Perry’s numbers are remarkable. An 18/67 favorable/unfavorable split among primary voters in one’s own party? You really don’t see that too often.

Overall, by the way, Mitt Romney did very well in this particular poll: Mitt 38, Newt Gingrich 20, Jon Huntsman 13, Ron Paul only 8. As usual, don’t pay too much attention to single polls, and remember that dramatic late change in New Hampshire is not unusual at all.

Back to Perry, however, two things. One is that I’d love to see exactly how it happened. Is it that Perry is just too conservative for New Hampshire? Is it the relatively minor deviations from conservative orthodoxy? Is it the debate performances? The association with George W. Bush?

And the other thing is that I strongly suspect that these numbers are very, very soft. If Perry has a couple of good weeks and finishes third or better in Iowa, thus receiving a wave of positive publicity, I really think the polling could flip really fast.

That’s a guess, of course. I just can’t see why there would be solid opposition to Perry. Ron Paul? Sure. Gingrich or Romney? Each has betrayed conservatives numerous times, and each has a personal background which might make some Republican voters wary. But Rick Perry? Are they really so strongly set against (rumored) stupidity and (proven) Texan roots? I am curious.

But for now: Nice catch!

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Jonathan Bernstein

Jonathan Bernstein is a political scientist who writes about American politics, especially the presidency, Congress, parties, and elections.