Feb 19, 2015 12:57 PM

NH1 News Poll: NH Republicans say college not a must to be president

NH1 Political Director - NH1.com

CONCORD - The vast majority of Republican primary voters in New Hampshire say a lack of a college degree doesn't disqualify GOP Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin to be the next president of the United States, according to a new survey.

The latest NH1 News Poll released Thursday indicates that 85 percent of Republicans and independents likely to vote in next year's GOP presidential primary say it doesn't matter that Walker didn't graduate college, and that he's qualified to be the next president. Fifteen percent of those questioned say the lack of a college degree should disqualify Walker from serving in the White House.

Walker, who last month was inaugurated to a second term as Wisconsin governor, is seriously considering a run for the 2016 GOP nomination and is taking concrete steps towards launching a presidential campaign. Walker is coming to the first-in-the-nation primary state next month, his first visit to New Hampshire in a couple of years.

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. His lack of a college degree has been a large, open question mark.

Former Vermont governor Howard Dean, a 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, criticized Walker last week, saying on MSNBC that "the issue is, how well educated is this guy?"

"I worry about people being President of the United States not knowing much about the world and not knowing much about science," added Dean, who also was a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Walker pushed back against his critics earlier this week, saying in an interview on the Fox News Channel "that's the kind of elitist, government knows best, top-down approach we've heard for years."

"I'd rather have a fighter who's proven he can take on the big government interests and win," Walker added.

First elected governor in 2010 in a state that leans toward 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 his numbers are on the rise in New Hampshire. He topped a recent NH1 Pulse Poll of those likely to vote in the 2016 GOP primary, and came in second to Jeb Bush in two other recent surveys.

The new NH1 News Poll was conducted Wednesday, 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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