Feb 23, 2015 11:31 AM

NH1 News Poll: Evolution beliefs not a big deal in 2016 decision

NH1 Political Director - NH1.com

CONCORD - Most Republican primary voters in New Hampshire say it's not important that the next president of the United States believes in evolution, according to a new survey.

An NH1 News Poll released Monday asked about Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who's moving closer and closer to launching a campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential campaign. Walker was criticized for not answering a question about evolution during a trip two weeks ago to Great Britain. In an interview on the Fox News Channel last week, Walker said "I think God created the Earth," adding that "I think science and my faith aren't incompatible."

According to the survey, 58.6% of Republicans and independents likely to vote in next year's GOP primary say it's not important that the next president believe in evolution, with 41.4% saying it's important.

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.

His speech last month at the Iowa Freedom Summit was very well received by conservative activists and earned him buzz in the national media. And Walker's numbers are on the rise in New Hampshire. He topped a recent NH1 News Poll of those likely to vote in the 2016 GOP primary, and came in second to Jeb Bush in two other surveys conducted over the past several weeks.

But Walker's been under the spotlight later, with his initial refusal to answer the evolution question, and his more recent refusal to comment on former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's controversial assertion that President Barack Obama doesn't love his country. Walker later declined to answer a question on whether the President is a Christian.

Walker's lack of a college degree has also become an open question. But an NH1 News Poll released last week indicated that 85% Republican primary voters in New Hampshire said a lack of a college degree doesn't disqualify Walker from serving as the next president of the United States.

Walker left Marquette University in the spring of his senior year to start a job with the American Red Cross. If elected to the White House, he'd be the first president without a bachelor's degree in more than 60 years.

The new NH1 News Poll was conducted Wednesday Feb. 18, with 664 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 3.85 percentage points.

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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