When Newt Gingrich broke with the Republican "hard line" on immigration during a televised debate two weeks ago, the pundits were quick to say the move would negatively impact his suddenly surging campaign.
But that doesn't appear to be the case, according to our latest Patch-Huffington Post Power Outsiders survey. A majority of Republican influentials in the early voting states of New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina and Florida say they feel Gingrich would do a better job than Mitt Romney on immigration, and just as many choose Gingrich's position on immigration over Romney's when presented without the candidates' names attached.
When asked to pick the candidate who would do the best job handling illegal immigration, 24 percent of the 183 respondents picked Gingrich, followed by Romney at 16 percent, Rick Perry at 15 percent, Ron Paul at 11 percent, Michele Bachmann at 10 percent, Rick Santorum at 8 percent, and Jon Huntsman at 7 percent.
And when GOP influentials were asked to choose between Gingrich and Romney on immigration, the former House Speaker won out by a 52 percent to 27 percent margin. That number is more even in New Hampshire, however, with 38 percent supporting Romney on immigration and 36 percent Gingrich.
For now, at least, it's safe to say that Gingrich's stand on immigration does not appear to be hurting his cause with local Republican insiders.
Each week, our local Patch editors will be asking influential New Hampshire Republicans questions about the presidential campaign, and we'll report the results here.
We’re always looking to expand our list of influential members of both parties in New Hampshire. If you’d like to participate, email email@example.com and we’ll connect you with the appropriate Patch editor.