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Can Rick Perry snatch the New Hampshire primary from Mitt Romney?

A new poll of likely voters in the New Hampshire GOP primary shows Mitt Romney at 36 percent, followed by Rick Perry at 18 percent. It was ‘a strong first showing’ for Mr. Perry, NH Journal said.

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Republican presidential candidate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks in Bedford, N.H., on Aug. 17.

Cheryl Senter/AP

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Imagine former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, comfortably campaigning in next-door New Hampshire, keeping the home fires warm as he heads toward an anticipated win in the first primary early in 2012. Then the pugnacious governor of Texas, Rick Perry, jumps in and threatens to take it all away.

Could Governor Perry actually succeed?

A poll released Wednesday of likely voters in the New Hampshire GOP primary shows Mr. Romney retaining his lead: 36 percent, followed by Perry at 18 percent, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas at 14 percent, and Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota at 10 percent. The poll, taken for NH Journal by the Republican firm Magellan Strategies, is the first out of New Hampshire since Perry entered the race on Aug. 13.

NH Journal called it “a strong first showing” for Perry in its poll.

But as expected, New Hampshire is still Romney’s to lose. And it’s too soon, really, to judge how Perry might do there. But as he makes his first campaign swing around the state Wednesday and Thursday, it’s clear he’s getting a serious look from Republican voters.

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