Funny things, polls.
They have a way of playing to peoples’ perceptions of who’s hot and who’s not, who they’ve heard of and who they haven’t.
Then again, they also have a way of speaking truth to power, the powers who want to tell the voting public who they might be voting for.
Which brings us to New Hampshire, where the latest survey by Suffolk University’s polling operation run with the Boston Herald shows a familiar name in first place in a hypothetical test of 2016 presidential primary candidates:
Among the 800 Granite State voters surveyed, 419 identified as Republicans. Among them, 24 percent said they’d “still vote” for Romney — who, of course, has run and lost twice. The closest anyone on the list came to Romney was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, at 9 percent. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul pulled nearly 8 percent in the poll, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush close to 7 percent.
In a list offered without Romney’s name on it, Paul and Christie vied for first place — a loose term of art considering that each claimed about 11 percent support. Bush stood at 8 percent, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz close to 8.
The real leader in this test, however, is undecided: 31.5 percent in a Republican contest lacking Romney, and 22.4 percent in a contest with Romney included.
Romney, though, isn’t in the contest — at least not yet.
“David, I’m not running for president,” the 2012 presidential nominee told host David Gregory on NBC News’ ”Meet the Press” last weekend. “I’ve said that so many times.”
The adopted Bostonian with a summer home at New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee was speaking from the annual issues conference he has been holding in Park City, Utah.
“I brought a number of the 2016 contenders here to meet with my fundraisers,” Romney reminded Gregory. “Had I been running, I — (l-he laughed) — I wouldn’t be doing that. Look, I want to find the best candidate for us to take our message to the American people that we can bring better jobs, higher incomes and more security globally.”
“I’m convinced that the field of Republican candidates that I’m seeing is a lot better positioned to do that than I am. So I’m not running.”
So, if the party drafts him?
“I’m not running, and talk of a draft is kind of silly.”
As is putting too much stock in a survey a year and a half from the 2016 New Hampshire primary elections — in a state where one in four Republicans surveyed say they’d still vote for the former governor of Massachusetts if he ran for president and almost one-third — asked about a possibly more realistic lineup — say they have’t any idea.
See the full run of numbers here, and then forget them.