Trump Still Leads in NH but Christie Rising; Clinton/Sanders Closely Matched

| Tom Jensen

PPP’s new New Hampshire poll finds Donald Trump’s position in the state pretty much unchanged compared to six weeks ago. He leads with 27% to 13% for Ted Cruz, 11% for Marco Rubio, 10% for Chris Christie, 9% for Ben Carson, 8% for John Kasich, 6% for Carly Fiorina, 5% for Jeb Bush, and 4% for Rand Paul. Rounding out the field in the 1% or less club are Mike Huckabee, George Pataki, and Rick Santorum each at 1%, and Lindsey Graham and Jim Gilmore with less than 1%.

The clear momentum candidate in New Hampshire is Chris Christie. In mid-October he was in 9th place in the state at just 3%. Now he’s moved all the way up into the 4th position with his 10% standing. Most remarkably though he now has the best favorability rating of any of the candidates in New Hampshire, with 61% of voters seeing him positively to only 22% who have a negative opinion. To put those numbers in perspective Christie was at 35/46 when we polled the state in August, so he’s had a 50 point net improvement in his favorability over the last three months. That’s a good reminder of how early it still is in this race and how much things can change in a short time. Christie is the most frequent second choice of Bush and Kasich voters so if either of them doesn’t make it to New Hampshire he’ll be well positioned to further gain.

The only other candidate with any momentum in the Granite State is Ted Cruz, who’s moved from being in 6th place at 8% in October to now second place with his 13% standing. We continue to see Cruz with growing strength among voters on the right everywhere we poll- he’s almost even among ‘very conservative’ voters in New Hampshire, getting 27% to Trump’s 29%. Cruz is also the most frequent second choice of primary voters at 14% to 13% for Rubio and 12% for Christie. Importantly he’s the second choice of 26% of Trump voters to 14% for Christie with no one else in double digits. If Trump’s support ever does wear away Cruz is positioned to be the greatest beneficiary of that.

There are two candidates these numbers are particularly bad for: Jeb Bush and John Kasich, both of whom might be the victims of Christie’s renewed strength. Bush has dropped from 5th place at 9% last month down now to 8th place at 5% this month. He continues to really struggle with GOP voters just flat not liking him- only 38% have a positive opinion of him to 45% with a negative one. His unfavorability rating ties him with George Pataki for the worst with New Hampshire Republicans. 

Kasich was in double digits and in the top 4 on both our August and October New Hampshire polls but is now seeing his standing slip with his 6th place showing at 8%. Kasich’s also seen his favorability rating drop from 49/22 in August to then 45/29 in October to now standing at just 38/35. The more NH Republicans get to know him the less they like him, and that doesn’t bode well for a candidate whose relevance in the race is probably predicated on a strong performance in New Hampshire.

As for Trump he was at 28% in mid-October and he’s at 27% now, so his standing couldn’t be much more steady. His favorability rating with Republicans has actually improved a tick, from 48/42 the last poll to now 50/39. The key to Trump’s sustained success is that his supporters basically buy into everything he says. There’s an almost cult like aspect to it, with Trump fans following the leader.


-58% of Trump voters think thousands of Arabs in New Jersey celebrated the attacks of 9/11 to only 12% who don’t think that happened. This is despite only 30% of Republican voters overall believing that to 39% who don’t.

-53% of Trump supporters are in favor of a national database of Muslims, to only 22% opposed to that concept. This is despite only 29% of Republicans overall supporting the idea to 44% who are against it. In fact supporters of all 13 of the other candidates are against this concept.

-49% of Trump supporters want to shut down the mosques in the United States, to only 18% against that idea. Overall only 25% of Republicans support doing that to 44% who oppose it. Again on this issue supporters of every single candidate other than Trump are against it.

-Additionally we asked voters about an assault weapons ban and only 20% of Trump voters support it to 66% who are opposed. We then asked about a ban specifically on assault weapons for Muslims, and 56% of Trump voters support that to only 22% who are opposed.  

Quick notes on other candidates:

-Marco Rubio’s in a holding pattern in New Hampshire. In October he was at 12% with a 55/25 favorability rating and now he’s at 11% with a 54/26 favorability rating. That actually makes him the second most popular candidate in the state behind Christie, and 13% who say he’s their second choice puts him right behind Cruz on that front. He’s still overall well positioned to possibly make gains in the future.

-New Hampshire was never one of Ben Carson’s stronger states but he’s slipped there as he has elsewhere. In October 11% said he was their first choice, and 26% said he was their first or second choice. Now 9% say he’s their first choice, and only 16% say he’s their first or second choice. He’s also seen his favorability rating take a bit of a nose dive, from 60/26 in October to now 52/30.

Things are very tight on the Democratic side in New Hampshire. Hillary Clinton’s at 44% to 42% for Bernie Sanders and 8% for Martin O’Malley. This is our first poll in the state since the field got cut in half and Joe Biden decided not to run and since then Sanders is the biggest gainer (+9), followed by O’Malley (+4), and then Clinton (+3). Sanders is actually easily the most popular of the Democrats with a 78/12 favorability rating, followed by Clinton’s 68/22 spread. O’Malley is still an unknown to 48% of the Democratic electorate but does get a solid 38/14 rating from those who are familiar with him.

It’s the open nature of New Hampshire’s primary that’s making it so competitive. Clinton leads Sanders 48/39 among actual Democrats. But independents are a third of the electorate, and Sanders leads Clinton by an identical 48/39 spread with them to make it so close overall. Sanders leads among ‘very liberal’ voters (52/44) and younger voters (41/39). Clinton makes up for it with modest leads among ‘somewhat liberal’ voters (45/40) and moderates (45/37), and a big advantage with seniors (55/35).

Finally Ann Coulter challenged us a couple weeks ago after we did polling finding that many Republicans don’t even think Islam should be legal to see how many Democrats think Christianity should be legal. We found that 90% of New Hampshire Democrats think Christianity should be legal, while only 58% of New Hampshire Republicans think Islam should be legal.

Full results here

Related Polls