The new Boston Globe New Hampshire poll, which has Mitt Romney far out in front (39 percent, followed by Gingrich and Paul at 17 percent), shows what happens when you’ve got a state with few evangelicals and a fair number of Ayn Rand libertarians. Romney gets his fair share of Protestants (39 percent), disproportionately large shares of Catholics (45 percent) and frequent worship attenders (47 percent), and a disproportionately small share of those who never go to church (30 percent). Ron Paul, by contrast, does poorly with Protestants (11 percent) and scores his biggest numbers with those who are neither Protestant nor Catholic (27 percent) and who never go to church (26 percent).
That all makes sense. But why do Granite State Teapartiers disproportionately favor Romney (44 percent), while Tea Party opponents are as likely to favor Paul (26 percent) as Romney (25 percent)? Beats me.
Update: My colleague Renny Fulco suggests that New Hampshire Tea Partiers support Romney because they “are ultimately pragmatic and really want to beat Obama.” Indeed, a majority of them think R. has the best chance of beating Obama and by a margin of 50-35 they think it’s more important for the GOP candidate to be able to beat Obama than to share their values. (By contrast, Tea Party opponents say it’s more important that the candidate shares their values than be able to beat Obama, by a margin of 67-16.) Maybe it’s political pragmatism or maybe hostility to Obama has become the key ideological commitment of Teapartyism.
Cool bonus fact: 20 percent of NH Romney supporters believe he is the most likely to flip-flop on the issues. Flip-floppers for Romney!