Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney talks with members of the traveling press aboard his campaign plabe on November 6, 2012 en route to Boston, Massachusetts. The presidential race remains tight as Americans are heading to the polls to cast their ballots. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Mitt Romney has said repeatedly he has no interest in running for president in 2016. But if a new poll of likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire is any indication, he may want to reconsider.
According to the results of a Bloomberg Politics/Saint Anselm survey released Monday, Romney leads all other possible GOP contenders by nearly 20 points. The 2012 GOP nominee would get 30 percent of the vote in the key battleground state, the poll found. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is second, at 11 percent, while New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie sits in third at 9 percent and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush fourth at 8 percent. Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, Romney's running mate in 2016, is tied for sixth with just 5 percent of the vote — or roughly the margin of error (+/- 4.9 percent) of the poll.
The results indicate the former Massachusetts governor still has strong name recognition among Granite State voters. Romney, who won the 2012 New Hampshire primary, went on to win the GOP nomination, losing to President Barack Obama in the general election.
"I'm not running," Romney told Bloomberg Politics last month. "I'm not planning on running, and I got nothing new on that story."
When Romney is removed from the potential list of GOP candidates, Paul and Christie share the lead at 16 percent, with Bush in third (14 percent) and Dr. Ben Carson, a retired Detroit neurosurgeon, in fourth at 9 percent.
“Some of that is Rand Paul and a lot of it is Ron Paul,” Tom Rath, former New Hampshire attorney general, said in a release accompanying the poll results. Rand Paul's father, Ron Paul, finished second in the 2012 New Hampshire primary.
“He inherits a substantial block of voters from his father," Rath said.
While Christie sits with Paul atop a Romney-less field in New Hampshire, the New Jersey governor's brash style of politics could be why he's not alone.
“It's that aspect of the persona that has given people some pause,” Rath said. “It's an issue you hear come up with people.”
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton leads all potential candidates a wide margin. Clinton, at 62 percent, has a 46-point edge on Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who received just 16 percent of the vote. Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders — who says he's considering a run for the White House as a Democrat — is third at 6 percent, with Vice President Joe Biden (5 percent) in fourth.
Polling New Hampshire voters for a hypothetical general election, Clinton also leads all potential Republican candidates among New Hampshire voters. But Romney would have the best chance against Clinton, trailing the former secretary of state by just one percentage point (45 percent to Clinton's 46 percent).