(CNN) – President Obama is getting some ominous news out of New Hampshire Friday in a new poll that suggests he will lose the key presidential state by a sizable margin if former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is the Republican nominee.
According to the new survey conducted by Dartmouth College, Romney beats the president in a head-to-head matchup by 8 points, 47 percent to 39 percent. Obama's poor showing against Romney is also the product of his weak approval rating in the Granite State, where only 36 percent of voters there give him positive marks. That compares to a 45 percent approval rating for Obama in New Hampshire in a similar poll one year ago.
But it's not all bad news for the president: though losing big to Romney, he soundly defeats every other potential GOP candidate the poll tested, including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (by 8 points), former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (by 16 points), Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (by 19 points), businessman Donald Trump (by 22 points) and former GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin (by 27 points).
Still, Obama's strong showing against those candidates is likely a reflection of their currently poor name identification in the state than his popularity: The president does not pass the 50 percent threshold when pitted against every potential GOP candidate except Palin and Trump, a sign many voters are prepared to vote against the president when they learn more about the other Republican candidates. Obama carried New Hampshire by 9 points over Sen. John McCain in the 2008 general election.
Having previously run for president only four years ago and serving as the governor of neighboring Massachusetts, Romney undoubtedly begins the GOP primary race in New Hampshire with a big advantage. Given his early strength there, it's possible anything besides a win in that state's first-in-the-nation primary would be a blow to his campaign. In 2008, Romney lost the New Hampshire primary by 6 points to McCain.
The Dartmouth poll surveyed 426 registered voters by telephone from April 11-14 and carries a sampling error of plus or minus 5 percent.