(CNN) - Here we go again. Another poll adding to the feeding frenzy over a possible third Mitt Romney run for the White House.
While the 2012 Republican presidential nominee's repeatedly said he's not running again in 2016, the attention such speculation captures is a sign of the wide open nature right now of the next GOP nomination race.
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"Think about it – we're still closer to the last presidential election than the next one. So until some of these other potential candidates have more time to really begin campaigning in earnest, I think Romney will continue to be top of mind for a lot of average voters," longtime South Carolina GOP consultant Joel Sawyer, senior VP of the Republican digital firm Push Digital, told CNN.
GOP strategist Kevin Madden, who served as a senior adviser in Romney's 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, said that "the interest is driven by those who believe, very deeply, that he would have been a very effective president and that he has been proven right on so many issues and ideas that he advanced in the 2012 campaign."
"But conceptual candidacies are very enticing, almost irresistible. Actual candidacies are cold, hard realities. There's a universe of differences between the two," added Madden, a CNN contributor.
Romney's numbers adding up
The latest survey to generate buzz: A WMUR/Granite State Poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire. The survey, released Thursday night, indicated that Romney would be the overwhelming front runner in the first-in-the-nation primary state if he decided to run again. Thirty-nine percent of likely GOP primary voters in the Granite State said they'd support Romney, with the potential 2016 Republican White House hopefuls all in single digits.
It's the second straight poll to indicate Romney would be the frontrunner in New Hampshire. Last month a Suffolk University/Boston Herald survey indicated that 24% of Granite State Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP said that Romney would be their first choice for their party's presidential nomination, far ahead of the rest of the field.
While the surveys are making headlines, it's important to remember that Romney's very well known in New Hampshire. He owns a vacation home in the state, has often appeared at GOP events in New Hampshire, and was governor of neighboring Massachusetts. Romney easily won the state's 2012 Republican primary, but lost the state by six percentage points to President Barack Obama in the general election.
The first poll to spark the Romney 2016 flames was an ABC News/Washington Post national survey released last November that suggested that if the 2012 presidential election between Romney and President Braack Obama were held today, Romney would hold a slight lead in the popular vote. Obama won the popular vote in the 2012 contest by a 51%-47% margin.
The flames were further fanned again last week, when by a 45%-38% margin, voters nationwide questioned in Quinnipiac University poll said that the country would be better off if Romney rather than Obama had won the 2012 election.
Besides generating buzz, the polls have peaked the interest of some major Republican donors.
An adviser close to former Massachusetts governor told CNN that he received a bunch of calls last month in the hour following the release of the Suffolk University/Boston Herald poll, from donors who contributed to the 2012 Romney presidential campaign.
Spencer Zwick, the campaign finance chairman for Romney's 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, recently told CNN that he thinks the polls create "a hope and interest from a lot of those donors who would have loved to seen Romney become president but are hopeful there may be a shot in the future."
"It started a few months ago with donors saying 'do you think there's any shot,' to donors now saying 'how do we convince him to do it.' Which is kind of interesting because they have heard Gov. Romney say 'I'm not planning on doing this again' and I think some of these donors don't want to take no for an answer," Zwick added.
No, No, No
Romney's been very clear on the subject of 2016.
"The answer is no, I'm not running for president in 2016. It's time for someone else to take that responsibility and I'll be supporting our nominee," he told anchor Wolf Blitzer in February on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer"
He's been using the same "I'm not running" language over and over again. And Romney's wife, Ann, has also been adamant against another run.
With just about every national and state poll indicating that the next GOP presidential nomination battle remains a wide open affair with no frontrunner among the potential contenders, it's no wonder that many Republicans still look to Romney.
"There are many people like me who would support Governor Romney if he decided to run again, but ultimately I believe he will find other ways to serve our country and the GOP in 2016," said veteran New Hampshire GOP consultant Jim Merrill, who was a top adviser to Romney in the Granite State in the 2008 and 2012 campaigns.
Since his defeat in the 2012 presidential election, Romney's taken on the role of Republican Party elder statesman, in hopes of helping shape the future of the party. Since late last year, he's made a bunch of endorsements – all successful – in a number of GOP primary battles this cycle.
But Madden says there's a reason Romney's been "crystal clear" about not running again: "He knows how even that speculation has a negative impact on the prospective field. It holds up donors, it holds up volunteers and staff."
What if Romney had won
Another reason for the Romney renaissance may be "buyers remorse," or in the case of Republicans who voted against Obama, an "I told you so" sentiment.
"The rising interest in Romney is because Republicans feel that President Obama is badly managing our country while it is in the middle of some serious foreign and domestic challenges. Romney is viewed by some as a competent former CEO who could bring stability and direction to the White House," said GOP consultant Ron Bonjean, who has been a top strategist and adviser to House and Senate Republican leaders.
"It's no surprise that Americans are wondering 'what if' Mitt Romney had been elected president as they watch President Obama stumble from one crisis to the next," added Merrill.
And part of it is just timing, plain and simple.
"There's a lot of buyers' remorse with Obama, and I think Romney's name pops to the top of the list because not long ago, he was out there running a national campaign," said Sawyer.