With the Republican Primary in New Hampshire 10 months away, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker are the early favorites in the Granite State.
Bush was the first choice of 19 percent, followed by Walker (14 percent), Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (7 percent), and businessman Donald Trump, who was testing the waters in New Hampshire last week, (6 percent). Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who on Sunday night tweeted his intention to run for president, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were tied at 5 percent each, while Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson tied with 3 percent. Ten other candidates received less than 2 percent, and 24 percent were undecided.
“The single-digit candidates need to go to New Hampshire and make a personal appeal to likely Republican voters there if they want to become the Republican alternative to Jeb Bush,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. “There are still plenty of undecided voters who might be won over if they make their case.”
Walker is the current conservative alternative to Bush and led the front-runner 20 percent to 14 percent among likely voters who described themselves as “conservatives,” with Cruz and Trump close behind with this demographic. Overall, Walker’s favorable rating of 46 percent was slightly below Bush’s 54 percent, and his unfavorable rating was 15 percent compared to Bush’s 27 percent unfavorable rating.
One challenge for Bush as the presidential contest continues is the comparatively low standing of the other men in his family who have occupied the Oval Office. When asked about their personal favorite of the past three Republican presidents, 76 percent chose Ronald Reagan, while 14 percent chose George Herbert Walker Bush, and 6 percent chose George W. Bush.
Despite more than 20 possible Republican candidates names floated as possible contenders, 1 in 3 voters said they were somewhat dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the Republican field of candidates. Eighty percent said they believe the country is on the wrong track, while 13 percent said the country is going in the right direction.
“These are the kinds of numbers that provide fertile ground for a well-financed independent candidate, looking at the dissatisfaction among political party loyalists, to present a third alternative,” said Paleologos.
The poll showed unity against prominent Democrats like President Barack Obama (78 percent unfavorable) and former Sen. Hillary Clinton (76 percent unfavorable).
Taxes and other issues
Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of the Republican voters said that raising taxes should not be an option for reducing the national debt.
However, the New Hampshire breed of Republican also expresses a more moderate-to-liberal social bent than generally shown in national GOP politics, with 49 percent identifying as pro-choice on abortion and 43 percent favoring legalization of same-sex marriage. Thirty-two percent said that the Tea Party faction has too much influence in Washington.
Twenty-nine percent of voters believe that terrorism and national security are the most important issues facing the nation today, with jobs and the economy (21 percent) and illegal immigration and reducing the national debt tied at 11 percent each.
In the 2014 New Hampshire general election, the final Suffolk University poll predicted a 3 point win for Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen over Republican Scott Brown; Shaheen won by 3. In the 2012 New Hampshire Republican presidential primary, the final Suffolk poll correctly predicted the 1-2-3 order of finish (Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, and Jon Huntsman) among the 33 listed GOP candidates on the New Hampshire ballot.
The statewide survey of 500 likely voters in New Hampshire’s Republican presidential primary was conducted March 21-24, 2015, using live telephone interviews and a split sample of landline and cell phone numbers. The margin of error is +/-4.4 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. Marginals and full cross-tabulation data will be posted at 11 a.m. Thursday, March 26, on the Suffolk University Political Research Center website. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310, firstname.lastname@example.org.