CONCORD, N.H. -- Mitt Romney's stranglehold on the New Hampshire primary is slipping slightly, according to a tracking poll of Granite State voters. But the trend lines are not moving nearly sharply enough to make a real difference before Tuesday's vote.
According to the latest Suffolk University/7News two-day tracking poll, Romney now has the support of 35 percent of likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters. That's down 4 percent since the last poll, but it still places Romney up 15 percentage points over his closest competitor, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who is at 20 percent.
The equally interesting numbers come from the rest of the field. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman is now at 11 percent, third place in the poll. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is at 9 percent, and former Sen. Rick Santorum, who has been preaching culturally conservative values to Granite Staters for days, is now at 8 percent (down one percentage point).
Huntsman's strength is coming from young independents (ages 18-44) who have increased their support for him from 10 percent to 18 percent. Paul's strength comes from younger voters (ages 18-34), 39 percent of whom back his candidacy.
If the two could someone consolidate that support into one candidacy, it might cause concern for Romney. But as the Suffolk poll underscores, there remains no singular alternative to the former Massachusetts governor even as his support is slightly slipping.
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