Apr 10, 2015 2:01 PM

NH1 News 2016 GOP Poll: Walker leads, Cruz and Paul gain ground, Trump in the mix

NH1 Political Director - NH1.com

CONCORD - Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker leads a crowded field of GOP presidential candidates and probable contenders in a new survey in New Hampshire.

An NH1 News poll also indicates that Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky may have benefited from being the first two major names in the Republican Party to officially announce for the White House. And the survey, released Friday, may also raise eyebrows thanks to a strong showing by Donald Trump.

According to the poll, 22.7% of Republicans and independents who are likely to vote in next February's GOP primary said they'd back Walker right now. First elected governor in 2010 in a state that leans towards the Democrats, Walker became a national hero to many conservatives thanks to his high profile 2011-2012 battle against state public sector unions over collective bargaining rights.

Walker's star has been on the rise since a speech he gave to conservative activists at January's Iowa Freedom Summit earned him national buzz. Last month Walker made his first visit in years to the first-in-the-nation primary state, as he energized a crowd of Republican activists at NHGOP event in Concord.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush grabs the support of 16.5% of likely GOP primary voters, according to the poll. Walker was at 21.2% and Bush at 14.4% in the last NH1 News GOP primary poll, which was conducted at the beginning of February, right after 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney announced that he would not make a third run for the White House..

Paul, who Tuesday launched his presidential bid, is at 14.9% in the new survey. The poll was conducted Wednesday and Thursday, right after Paul's announcement in Kentucky and visit to the Granite State. Paul registered at 8.3% in the previous NH1 News poll.

Cruz, who's made two trips to New Hampshire in the past couple of weeks, is in fourth place, with the support of 8.9% of those questioned. He stood at 3.3% in NH1's last survey.

Trump, the real estate mogul and reality TV star who's taking steps towards launching a presidential bid, is at 8%,

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who's expected to announce his White House campaign on Monday, stands at 7%, as does Ben Carson. Monday the famed neurosurgeon, who's popular with many conservatives, made his first trip to New Hampshire this year.

According to the poll, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's at 5.8%, with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a 2008 GOP presidential candidate who also hosted a weekend program on the Fox News Channel, was at 5.5%.

Former business executive Cary Fiorina was at 1.9%, with former longtime Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a 2012 Republican White House candidate, at 1.6%.

The recorded questionnaire could only fit 11 potential candidate names. With more than 20 people considering a run for the GOP nomination, many names were obviously left off. Among them are 2012 Republican presidential candidate and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Govs. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and John Kasich of Ohio, and former Govs. George Pataki of New York, Bob Ehrlich of Maryland, and Jim Gilmore of Virginia.

A Boston Herald/Franklin Pierce University survey conducted late last month put Bush and Walker each at 15%, Paul at 13% and Christie at 10%.

The NH1 News poll indicated a slight divide between registered Republicans and undeclared voters likely to take part in the GOP primary. Among Republicans only, Walker's at 23.4%, Bush register's at 17.3% and Paul's at 13.5%. But among independents, Paul tops the list at 21.2%, with Walker at 19.2%, Bush at 13.1% and Trump at 12.1%.

One caveat: surveys conducted this early in a campaign cycle are often influenced by name recognition. Expect these numbers to change often between now and next February's primary.

The NH1 Pulse Poll was conducted April 8-9, with 1,064 registered Republicans or independents who lean towards the GOP, who said there were likely to vote in the 2016 New Hampshire Republican presidential primary, questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error was plus or minus three percentage points. The order of candidates listed on the questionnaire was rotated.

The poll was conducted by Reach Communications, a New Hampshire owned and operated survey and marketing firm run by two longtime GOP operatives who are not taking sides in the 2016 GOP nomination race.


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