Romney holds an eight percentage point lead over McCain and Giuliani in New Hampshire, according to a new CNN/WMUR poll.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has jumped to the head of the pack of 2008 Republican presidential contenders in New Hampshire, according to a CNN/WMUR poll out Tuesday.
Romney shot past former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Sen. John McCain of Arizona in the latest poll, conducted Wednesday through Monday by the University of New Hampshire. Former Tennessee senator and "Law and Order" star Fred Thompson runs fourth after taking his first steps toward a campaign, the survey found. (Read full poll results [PDF])
Pollsters interviewed 304 New Hampshire residents who say they will vote in January's Republican primary, the first in the nation. The survey had a sampling error of 5.5 percentage points.
Romney, who led New Hampshire's southern neighbor from 2003 to 2007, drew 28 percent support in the new poll. Giuliani and McCain were tied for second at 20 percent, while 11 percent backed Thompson, who set up a campaign fundraising committee June 1.
The remainder of the GOP's presidential contenders were in the low single digits. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who has said he will decide whether to run in the fall, scored 4 percent; Texas congressman Ron Paul, the lone voice of opposition to the war in Iraq among Republican candidates, came in at 3 percent; Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee were at 2 percent; and Colorado U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo rated less than 1 percent.
None of those polled chose California congressman Duncan Hunter, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore or former Wisconsin governor and Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson.
The poll was conducted after last week's CNN-WMUR-New Hampshire Union Leader debate in Manchester. Fred Thompson did not take part in that face-off, the first among the GOP candidates in the state.
Romney trailed McCain and Giuliani by 11 percentage points in the last CNN/WMUR poll, conducted in late March and early April, and the current survey found the race remains highly fluid. Only 6 percent of Granite State Republicans said they had definitely decided on a candidate, while 57 percent said they had no idea who they will support.
Among the top three, 32 percent found Romney was the most likeable candidate. Giuliani came in second with 28 percent, while McCain was third at 12 percent. But 31 percent of those polled said Giuliani had the best chance of beating the eventual Democratic nominee, compared to 25 percent for Romney and 14 percent for McCain.
Respondents were closely split on the question of which candidate was the strongest leader, with Giuliani and McCain tied at 26 percent and Romney at 25 percent. But McCain was considered the most believable, with 27 percent to Romney's 19 and Giuliani's 21.
McCain - who during last week's debate was the sole defender of the controversial immigration bill that stalled in the Senate last week - also was rated the most willing to take an unpopular stand. Thirty-six percent of those polled gave that distinction to McCain, compared to 16 percent each for Romney and Giuliani.
While the immigration controversy dominated last week's debate, the new poll finds it running a distant second among Granite State GOP voters' priorities. The war in Iraq topped the list at 36 percent, while immigration came in at 11 percent, the economy at 9 percent and health care at 8 percent. Abortion trailed the list at 6 percent.