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Dead heat in Iowa, but a blowout in New Hampshire for Mitt Romney

New Hampshire, at least for the moment, remains Mitt Romney country.

As polls show no fewer than three candidates with a realistic chance of winning the Iowa caucuses Tuesday, a new Suffolk University survey in the nation’s first primary state confirms the former Massachusetts governor’s hearty advantage there.

Romney has the support of 41% of likely Republican primary voters, 26 points ahead of the closest challenger, Ron Paul, more than a week before voting, the survey showed.

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Newt Gingrich placed third at 11%, down 9 percentage points since Suffolk last surveyed New Hampshire voters in mid-December. Jon Huntsman, who’s largely had the state to himself as the other hopefuls barnstorm Iowa, is fourth at 9%.

Rick Santorum may be surging in Iowa, but registers at just 3% in New Hampshire -- even with Michele Bachmann and just ahead of Rick Perry.

David Paleologos, the director of Suffolk University’s Political Research Center, said that while there was still a sizable number of undecided voters, “it is unlikely that Romney will lose New Hampshire, despite what Iowa voters may do.”

The Suffolk poll of 500 likely voters was conducted Dec. 30-31, and has a margin of error 4.4 percentage points. Suffolk will be releasing daily results of its tracking poll for the next week.

A Des Moines Register poll of likely Iowa caucusgoers released Saturday showed Romney leading Paul 24% to 22%, with Santorum third at 15%.

michael.memoli@latimes.com

twitter.com/mikememoli


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