Final Suffolk U. tracking poll hints at Romney landslide

A 20 point win is generally considered a landslide but in Romney's case, is that really true?

Expectations for Romney were higher than that as recently as two weeks ago when he was at 49% and all other rivals were in the teens or single digits.

The most recent Suffolk daily tracking poll has Romney struggling to crack 40%:

Romney (37 percent) led Ron Paul (18 percent), Jon Huntsman (16 percent), Rick Santorum (11 percent), and Newt Gingrich (9 percent), while Rick Perry and Buddy Roemer each had 1 percent, with 7 percent undecided.

"Mitt Romney may beat his closest competitor by a two- to-one margin," said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. "With two solid debate performances, Romney weathered the storm earlier this week, while no opponent made a serious run at him."

The Suffolk University/7News tracking poll included all 500 respondents polled after the two presidential debates, one held Saturday night and the other Sunday morning. The tracking poll field was conducted Sunday night and Monday night.

Huntsman, who also had a strong debate performance Sunday morning, closed out his campaigning on a high note. He outpolled Paul in the final 250 surveys Monday night, although the error rate is +/- 6.20 percent for that one-day count.

"The battle for second place will be determined by which candidate has the best field organization to bring out the votes today," Paleologos said. "A good get-out-the-vote-operation accounts for up to 5 points, which can impact an expected outcome."

A final Huntsman surge may vault him into second place over Ron Paul, although Paul's ground game is far superior to the former Utah governor's. But finishing a distant second in a state tailor made for his brand of moderate conservatism might cause Huntsman to reconsider his candidacy going forward.

As for Romney, while he might not beat expectations, he probably won't underperform to where it becomes a problem for him going into South Carolina. It is likely that SC will be a last stand for several candidates and Romney can expect to be ambushed by his more conservative opponents in the Palmetto State.