Fmr. Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at a rally and town hall in Derry on June 16

Jun 23, 2015 10:57 AM

Steinhauser: Bush tops new NH GOP primary poll but most disagree with him on 'act of love' comment

NH1 Political Director -

CONCORD – Jeb Bush narrowly sits atop a very crowded pack of Republican presidential candidates and contenders, according to a new poll in the first-in-the-nation primary state.

But the Suffolk University survey, which was released Tuesday morning, indicates that eight in ten likely New Hampshire GOP primary voters disagree with the former Florida governor’s statement from April of last year that undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally in search of a better life for their children “broke the law, but it’s not a felony. It’s an act of love.”

According to the poll, 14.4% of those likely to vote in next February’s Granite State GOP presidential primary say they’d back Bush for their party’s nominee, with Donald Trump at 10.6%. The survey was conducted last Thursday through Monday, in the days following the announcements from Bush and Trump that they’re running for the White House.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s in third, at 8.4%, with Sen. Marco Rubio Florida at 6.8%, famed neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 6%, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at 4.6%, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky at 4.2%, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and former Hewlett Packard CEO each at Carly Fiorina at 3.6 %%, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee at 2.4%, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 2%.

Former New York Gov. George Pataki is at 1.2%, followed by former Texas Gov. Rick Perry at 1%, 2012 GOP presidential candidate and fmr. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania at .8%, and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal each at .4 percent. The poll’s sampling error is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points, which means there’s no real frontrunner in the battle for the GOP nomination in the first-in-the-nation primary state. Nearly three in ten were undecided.

“There are two types of contenders right now in New Hampshire - those that are widely popular and those that have some popularity with higher negative but loyal followers.

The popular crowd includes Rubio, Bush, and Walker. The candidates with loyal followers but higher negatives include Trump, Paul, Huckabee, and Christie, Suffolk University Political Research Center Director David Paleologos told NH1 News.

“In the short run, these candidates are competitive because their negatives are spread out among many others. But in the long run it will be harder to grow voters as the field of candidates is reduced and the negatives become more visible and a disqualifier,” he added.

While Bush tops the list, 62% strongly disagree with his comments on immigration, with another 18% saying they somewhat disagree. Only 12% of those questioned say they somewhat or strongly agree with Bush’s “act of love” comments. Bush’s stance on illegal immigration, as well as his backing of Common Core educational standards, put him at odds with many conservatives who make up the base of the GOP.

The poll also sends some mixed signals for Trump. While 10.6% say they’d vote for him in the GOP primary, his favorable/unfavorable rating is underwater. Thirty-seven percent said they have a favorable opinion of the real estate mogul and reality TV star, with 49% saying they see him in a unfavorable light. But six in ten say he should be included in the Republican presidential debates.

And New Hampshire Republican primary voters appear split on Christie, who scores a 44%-42% favorable/unfavorable rating.

The Suffolk University poll was conducted by phone using live operators, with 500 likely GOP primary voters in the Granite State questioned in the survey.


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