Walker, Clinton lead in NH

| Tom Jensen

Public Policy Polling’s newest survey of the Republican primary for President in New Hampshire finds Scott Walker in a tier by himself- 24% of voters say he’s their top choice to 14% for Ted Cruz, 12% for Rand Paul, 10% for Jeb Bush, 8% each for Marco Rubio and Chris Christie, 7% each for Mike Huckabee and Ben Carson, and 4% for Rick Perry.

Walker is easily the best liked of the potential GOP contenders in New Hampshire. 57% of voters have a favorable opinion of him to only 13% with a negative one. Walker’s strength lies in his ability to appeal to the different ideological factions within the Republican electorate- he leads with voters identifying themselves as moderates, ‘somewhat conservative,’ and ‘very conservative’ alike. Walker’s strength certainly grows as voters get more conservative though- he is polling at 37% with those identifying themselves as ‘very conservative.’ When PPP last polled the primary in New Hampshire last January Walker was at only 3%.

Cruz and Paul may be in the 2nd and 3rd spots right now at least partially thanks to the momentum they got out of their early candidacy announcements. While Walker is the top choice of the voters in the furthest right segment of the Republican electorate, Cruz is a very clear second with no one else in the same league as them. Paul’s support base is more ideologically diverse. Paul and Cruz join Walker as the only potential hopefuls with greater than 50% favorability ratings.

Jeb Bush continues to face some early skepticism from conservative voters. His overall favorability spread is only 41/40, and among voters who identify themselves as ‘very conservative’ he’s actually on negative ground at 34/45. Only 6% within that group say Bush is their first choice to be the Republican nominee.

When PPP last polled New Hampshire in January 2014, Chris Christie led the field in the state at 24%. His support has dropped by 16 points now to its current 8% standing, and he is by far and away the most unpopular candidate in the GOP field there. Only 34% of voters view him favorably to 49% with a negative opinion. The only other potential GOP hopefuls with under water numbers in the state that we tested are Donald Trump (40/41), George Pataki (21/28), and Lindsey Graham (20/36).

2 other quick hits on the Republicans in New Hampshire:

-Bobby Jindal at 43/14 has one of the best favorability ratings of anyone we tested in the state. He may be someone to keep a closer eye on moving forward.

-Out of the 16 Republicans we tested John Kasich has easily the lowest name recognition at 37%. The next least known hopeful we looked at was Carly Fiorina with 46% name recognition. If Kasich really wants to run he might need to start doing more sooner than later.

On the Democratic side Hillary Clinton has one of her weaker recent polling performances, getting 45% to 23% for Elizabeth Warren, 12% for Bernie Sanders, 7% for Joe Biden, 3% for Martin O’Malley, and 1% each for Lincoln Chafee and Jim Webb.

Part of that is a function of so many voters in Democratic primaries in New Hampshire not actually being Democrats- 36% are independents. Among Democrats Clinton gets 52%, pretty comparable to what we’ve been finding for her nationally and in other states recently. But it’s a much tighter race among all those independents- Clinton gets 31% to 28% for Warren, 12% for Biden, and 11% for Sanders with them.

Clinton’s comparatively weak performance also doesn’t reflect a spike in ill feelings toward her among Democratic primary voters. Her favorability rating is 78/10, where last January it was 86/10. There are more voters feeling unsure about her, but there isn’t an increase in those actually viewing her negatively. Her lower performance is just a reflection of voters liking other prospective candidates too. Warren’s 77/10 favorability is comparable to Clinton’s, and Sanders is clearly catching on some with Granite State Democrats as well. 

Nevertheless Clinton continues to hold a commanding lead even if it’s not quite as commanding as it has been in the past.

Full results here

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