Walker, Bush, Rubio lead GOP field; Clinton Still Dominant

| Tom Jensen

PPP’s newest national Republican poll continues to find a bunched up race at the top. Scott Walker leads with 17% to 15% for Jeb Bush, 13% for Marco Rubio, 12% for Ben Carson, 11% for Mike Huckabee, 8% for Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, 5% for Carly Fiorina, and 4% for Chris Christie. Small though the lead may be, this is the fourth consecutive national survey we’ve done where we found Walker out in front.

Walker continues to lead thanks largely due to his strength with voters who identify themselves as ‘very conservative.’ Among them he gets 23% with Carson at 17%, Cruz at 13%, and Huckabee at 11% the other candidates who enter double digits. 

The poll is mixed news for Bush. On one hand he’s the only candidate who’s really gained in support over the last month, going from 11% to 15%. Everyone else is within 1 or 2 points of where they were in the polls a month ago. On the other hand he actually starts out with a negative favorability rating among GOP primary voters- only 37% see him favorably to 40% with an unfavorable view. That’s largely due to his struggles with conservatives- just 32% of ‘very conservative’ primary voters have a positive opinion of him while 51% see him negatively. Bush does lead the field with moderates at 19% to 17% for Rubio, 15% for Paul, and 10% for Huckabee.

Rubio has the best favorability rating of the GOP hopefuls- 59% of primary voters have a positive opinion of him to only 16% with a negative one. Rubio is also the most frequently named second choice of GOP voters. Only three hopefuls are either the first or second choice of more than 20% of voters- Walker at 28%, Bush at 26%, and Rubio at 25%.

Christie continues to be largely reviled by GOP voters- only 26% have a favorable opinion of him to 49% with an unfavorable one and he’s even polling now behind Carly Fiorina. In addition to Christie and Bush, 3 other GOP hopefuls are under water even with their own party’s voters- Donald Trump at 38/43, George Pataki at 10/30, and Lindsey Graham at 16/39. Although Graham is unpopular it’s not clear that his being single has much to do with the problem- 76% of GOP voters say it makes no difference to them whether a candidate is married with 15% saying they’re less likely to vote for one who isn’t and 4% more likely.

The stability in the national Republican standings is somewhat notable in and of itself- it was rare during the 2012 cycle to see so little month to month volatility as new candidates entered the race or caught fire for one reason or another.

Bernie Sanders may be gaining momentum in recent New Hampshire polling but Hillary Clinton is more dominant than ever in the national polling. She’s at 65% to 9% for Bernie Sanders, 5% for Martin O’Malley, and 4% each for Lincoln Chafee and Jim Webb. Sanders is the most common second choice of Democratic voters at 19% and O’Malley has broken away from Chafee and Webb to become the clear third choice of primary voters at 12%. Overall Clinton is the first or second choice of 73% of Democrats to 28% for Sanders, 17% for O’Malley, 8% for Chafee, and 7% for Webb.

Clinton continues to be dominant nationally with every segment of the Democratic electorate- she’s over 60% with liberals, moderates, women, men, Hispanics, whites, and voters in every age group and she’s polling at 83% with African Americans. The lack of racial diversity in New Hampshire is one reason Sanders is coming closer to her there given her dominance with black voters nationally.

Clinton leads the entire GOP field in hypothetical general election match ups but it’s all by pretty modest margins- her advantages range from 3 to 7 points. The Republicans who fare best against Clinton are Ben Carson and Marco Rubio, each of whom trail by 3 points at 46/43. Rubio is the only candidate on either side of the aisle who has a positive favorability rating with the overall electorate- 37% of voters see him favorably to 36% with a negative opinion.

Clinton leads Jeb Bush and Chris Christie each by 4 at 45/41, Scott Walker by 4 as well at 46/42, has a 5 point advantage over Mike Huckabee at 47/42, is up 6 on Carly Fiorina and Ted Cruz at 46/40 and 48/42 respectively, and has a 7 point edge over Rand Paul at 47/40. Clinton’s 3 to 7 point lead range is comparable to our April poll when she led by 3 to 9 points, but down from February when we found her leading the GOP hopefuls by 7 to 10 points.

Clinton continues to be a far superior general election candidate to any of the other Democratic hopefuls. Scott Walker would lead Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders each by 8 at 39/31 and 40/32 respectively, Jim Webb by 11 at 39/28, and Lincoln Chafee by 12 at 39/27.

Full results here

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