- The Washington Times
Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is leading the 2016 GOP field in a new survey on the early state of New Hampshire, with fellow newly declared presidential candidate Donald Trump close behind him.

Mr. Bush was at 14 percent in the Suffolk University poll released Tuesday, followed by Mr. Trump at 11 percent. Both men officially announced last week they are running for president in 2016.

Next was Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has not yet officially announced his candidacy, at 8 percent, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida at 7 percent, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 6 percent and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has not announced yet, either, at 5 percent.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and businesswoman Carly Fiorina were tied at 4 percent apiece, with no other candidate or potential candidate cracking 2 percent.

“Jeb Bush continues to lead, but Donald Trump has emerged as an anti-Jeb Bush alternative in New Hampshire,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “Many of those who like Trump are voting for him, and although many more dislike him, the unfavorables are split up among many other candidates. It’s the politics of plurality.”

Forty-nine percent of likely voters had an unfavorable view of Mr. Trump, compared to 37 percent who viewed him favorably.

Mr. Rubio had the highest favorability rating of anyone in the field, with a 61 percent/14 percent favorable/unfavorable split. Majorities also had favorable views of Mr. Bush (58 percent favorable/26 percent unfavorable) and Mr. Walker (53 percent favorable/16 percent unfavorable).

When voters were asked whether the candidates and potential candidates should be included in the upcoming debates, though, 10 people were chosen ahead of Mr. Trump. The first GOP debate in Cleveland in August will be comprised of the top 10 candidates based on recent polling, though Fox News, which is hosting the debate, has announced that a separate forum will be held on the same day for candidates who do not make the cut.

The breakdown of the percentage of voters who wanted to see each candidate on the debate stage was:

1. Mr. Bush (83 percent);

2. Mr. Rubio (81 percent);

3. Mr. Walker (74 percent);

4. Mr. Paul (72 percent);

5. Mr. Cruz (71 percent);

6. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (71 percent);

7. Mr. Christie (68 percent);

8. Ms. Fiorina (65 percent);

9. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (64 percent);

10. Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania (63 percent);

11. Mr. Trump (60 percent);

12. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson (59 percent);

13. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina (55 percent);

14. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (54 percent);

15. Ohio Gov. John Kasich (52 percent);

16. Former New York Gov. George Pataki (52 percent);

17. Former Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich (31 percent);

18. Former IRS Commissioner Mark Everson (30 percent);

19. Former Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III (28 percent).

“This is where Trump’s unfavorability is limiting people’s tolerance to hear what he has to say, and voters would rather see other candidates in the debate,” Mr. Paleologos said. “Trump’s controversial candidacy is being constructed in a way that gives him visibility and exposure in the short term but may also limit his growth in the long run, like a glass ceiling.”

The statewide survey of 500 likely GOP primary voters was conducted June 18-22 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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