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Romney cruised to an easy win in New Hampshire Tuesday, capturing nearly 40 percent of the vote and leaving a field of other pretenders — led by Ron Paul with 23 percent — far behind.
“It’s a convincing win to be sure,” GOP analyst Stan Wilson tells Capitol Hill Blue, “but it’s a win with an asterisk because it’s a win over second-tier candidates.”
Political professionals say that in a perfect political world — a contradiction of terms at best — Romney should be easy to beat. But the bigger remaining question is: Can any Republican this year beat President Barack Obama?
But while a Pew Research Center Poll shows Americans split 41-41 percent when it comes to President Barack Obama or a Republican — any Republican — in the general election, the numbers change when you look at specific GOP candidates.
The latest Reuters/Ipsos Poll — conducted Jan. 5-8 among 500 registered voters nationwide — shows Romney leading all other GOP contenders in a head-to-head matchup against Obama but Obama still beats Romney 48-43.
CBS has Romney beating Obama 47-45 but with the margin of error factored in, it’s a statistical tie.
The numbers will, of course, change once a GOP candidate is determined but in a race where the incumbent President typically polls below 50 percent a strong GOP candidate should — in theory at least — be able to knock Obama off easily.
But the GOP doesn’t have a strong candidate. The current crop of contenders is considered by most to be the weakest field of GOP challengers of modern times and perhaps in history.
And that is a problem that could come back to haunt the GOP in November.