In the shock poll of the day, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has pulled into a statistical tie with Mitt Romney in the former Massachusetts governor’s backyard, New Hampshire.

Republican presidential candidates Newt Gingrich, left, and Mitt Romney, during the debate Saturday, Nov. 12, in Spartanburg, S.C. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)

The poll of likely Republican primary voters by Magellan Strategies for the online New Hampshire Journal shows Mr. Romney with 29% in the Granite State, within the poll’s 3.6-percentage-point margin of error over Mr. Gingrich’s 27%. Texas Rep. Ron Paul has 16% support, with former pizza company executiveHerman Cain at 10%.

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Mr. Gingrich’s rise has been chronicled in a slew of state and national polls this week. A Rasmussen Reports poll in Iowa Thursday gave Mr. Gingrich a double-digit lead over his competition in Iowa, 32% to Mr. Romney’s 19% to Mr. Cain’s 13%.

But Mr. Romney, the putative national front-runner, has been skittish about committing time and effort to Iowa, where caucus goers head to the polls in less than seven weeks. New Hampshire, in contrast, is his firewall. A big victory Jan. 10 in the state next to his home– and where he owns a lake house – is supposed to propel him south to South Carolina and Florida, and on to the Republican nomination. Even a close second place finish in the Granite State for Mr. Gingrich would be a significant political boost – and a blow to Mr. Romney.



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