ByÂ Seth McLaughlin-The Washington Times
The congressman from Texas torched his competition in a straw poll of taxpayer activists.
Mr. Paulâ€™s strong showing in the straw poll at last weekendâ€™sÂ Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers (CNHT) gathering is another reminder of howMrs. Bachmannâ€™s path to victory here is murkier than in Iowa, where her reputation as a religious conservative and tea party leader is proving to be a natural fit.
â€œI think she does have a problem,â€ said formerÂ Sen. Judd Gregg, a Republican powerbroker in New Hampshire who said the winner of his stateâ€™s primary will need to break out of that mold. â€œIn this race, you already have three or four people whoâ€™ve tried to gather a constituency that isnâ€™t that large to begin with; it probably doesnâ€™t break 20 to 25 percent of the electorate. So you have to get outside that constituency â€” especially in New Hampshire.â€
Mrs. Bachmann, who formally announced her candidacy late last month, has ascended in national polls. A Quinnipiac Poll released Wednesday showed her support â€œzoomingâ€ from 6 percent to 14 percent, good enough for second place behind former MassachusettsÂ Gov. Mitt Romney with 25 percent in the same poll.
She is the front-runner in Iowa, where polls suggest she is on the same political wavelength as self-identified tea partyers and religious conservatives.
But to win the nomination, Republicans said, she will have to broaden her appeal beyond those voters or risk repeating the performance of 2008 presidential candidateÂ Mike Huckabee. The former Arkansas governor won the Iowa caucuses on the strength of his social conservative leanings, but he came in third in New Hampshire. His campaign petered out as the primary calendar continued.
The structure of the two contests matters, too. Iowaâ€™s caucuses attract committedÂ GOP activists willing to turn out for several hours on a usually frigid January night. In New Hampshire, voters go to the polls throughout the day just as with any other election. So while the state has less than half the population of Iowa, turnout can be double that of the caucuses.
â€œThere is a night-and-day difference between Iowa and New Hampshire,â€ Manchester MayorÂ Ted Gatsas said, adding that New Hampshire voters like to meet candidates multiple times.
â€œIn New Hampshire, itâ€™s, â€˜I want to talk to you, know what you say and make sure itâ€™s the same thing you say the third time I meet you,â€™ â€ he said.
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