PPP's newest New Hampshire poll finds Donald Trump leading in the state by 14 points. Trump's position in the state has been steady over the last three months- we found him at 28% in mid-October, 27% in early December, and we find him at 29% this month. 5 other candidates are in double digits but pretty closely clustered and all well behind Trump- Marco Rubio at 15%, Chris Christie and John Kasich at 11%, and Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz at 10%. Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina at 4%, Rand Paul at 3%, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum at 1%, and Jim Gilmore with less than 1% round out the field.
Trump actually ranks 8th out of the 12 candidates in New Hampshire in net favorability with only 49% of GOP voters seeing him favorably to 44% with a negative opinion. But his support has the greatest intensity among the top level candidates- 68% of his supporters say they're firmly committed to him compared to 63% for Cruz, 58% for Bush, 46% for Rubio, 40% for Christie, and just 34% for Kasich on that metric. Looking at the race just among those who say their mind is totally made up, Trump's support goes up to 38% to 13% for Rubio, 12% for Cruz, 11% for Bush, 9% for Christie, and 7% for Kasich.
The establishment split is what's keeping Trump in such a good position. In a pared down field of the candidates generally viewed as the top 3 in the overall race Trump would lead Rubio by just 2 points, 36/34, with Cruz back at 19%. And Trump trails Rubio 52/40 and Cruz 46/39 in head to head match ups while leading Bush just 46/45. But as long as Rubio and Christie and Kasich and Bush are all in the race they're splitting the vote enough to let Trump's passionate base give him a big lead.
The candidates with the biggest gains since our last poll in early December are Bush (up 5 points from 5% to 10%), Rubio (up 4 points from 11% to 15), and Kasich (up 3 points from 8% to 11%). Bush and Kasich have also had notable gains in their favorability ratings. Bush has gone from negative territory last month (38/45) to positive ground (44/42). It may not sound like much but it's been a long time since we found Bush with an above water favorability anywhere. Kasich's improved from 38/35 to 46/30.
The bottom's dropped out on Ben Carson whose support has gone from 9% to 4% and whose favorability has gone from 52/30 to 48/34. Interestingly the other candidate whose seen his support drop is Ted Cruz, who's gone from 13% to 10% with his favorability remaining steady at 54/29 this month to 53/28 last month. Cruz is still pretty well positioned overall though. He's the most frequent second choice of voters in the state at 17% to 11% each for Bush and Rubio, and 10% for Christie. More importantly he's the overwhelming back up pick of Trump supporters at 37% to 10% for Rubio with no one else in double digits. If Cruz wins Iowa and it causes Trump voters to be demoralized, he's easily the candidate most likely to see his supporters come their way.
A couple of notes on things in the news: