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Scott Walker Leads GOP Field in New Hampshire Poll

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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is maintaining a razor-thin lead over former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush among Republican voters in New Hampshire, which holds the first presidential primary in the nation next year.

According to a survey late last week for my radio show by Gravis Marketing, a non-partisan Florida-based research firm, Walker is ahead of Bush 19-18 percent.

In a Gravis poll six weeks ago, Walker led Bush 23-16 in New Hampshire. Both unannounced candidates spent the weekend in NH before the polling began.

Both candidates, as well as KY Sen. Rand Paul, trailed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in head-to-head match-ups by three points. Barack Obama carried New Hampshire in 2008 and 2012.

Gravis also showed a very tight race shaping up for the US Senate seat now held by GOP first-termer Kelly Ayotte. Ayotte, who has been tilting left in Washington, was ahead of two-term Democrat Gov. Maggie Hassan, 47-45.

Gravis’ poll included 683 respondents on the Republican side and 427 Democrats.

Among potential Democratic presidential candidates, despite the controversy over her State Dept. emails and a disastrous press conference at the United Nations, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton actually extended her lead over MA Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Clinton now leads Warren 49-20, up from 44-25 in February.

Doug Kaplan, managing partner of Gravis, said what most surprised him was Clinton’s strength, which he described as “unprecedented – really, it is nothing we have seen before.”

On the GOP side, Kaplan said, “We think Walker’s numbers are stalled at 20 percent… In the next month we are looking for moves from either Rubio or Cruz that make it a three-way race.”

In head-to-head match-ups, Clinton was ahead of Walker 46-43 percent, 43-40 over Bush and 45-42 over KY Sen. Rand Paul.

Clinton led NJ Gov. Chris Christie 46-38.

The poll was conducted before TX Sen. Ted Cruz’ official announcement of his presidential candidacy earlier today. Cruz too has been campaigning in the Granite State, and was attacked just before his last visit by former NH GOP chairman Fergus Cullen.

On a local radio show, Cullen blasted Cruz as representing “everything that is wrong with the Republican Party in Washington these days… Ted Cruz is not someone who will darken our doorstep.”

The next day, Cullen hosted a party for Bush in Dover.

The percentage of “unsure” among NH GOP voters surveyed by Gravis increased from 14 to 16 percent. Here are the remaining candidates in order, with their showings from last month in parentheses:

Christie 10 percent (12), Paul 10 (11), FL Sen. Marco Rubio 7 (8), Cruz 6 (6), retired physician Ben Carson 6 (not included in previous poll), Carly Fiorina 4 (not included in Feb.), ex-AR Gov. Mike Huckabee 4 (6) and ex-PA Sen. Rick Santorum 1 (3).

On the Democrat side, Bernie Sanders, a senator from another neighboring state, Vermont, again finished in third place, with 12, down one percent from last month. Vice President Joe Biden was unchanged at 5 percent. Ten percent of NH Democrats say they are undecided. Former MD Gov. Martin O’Malley and former VA Sen. Jim Webb trailed with 2 percent each.

The poll was conducted before the Boston Globe, a once-formidable force in New England politics now owned by Boston Red Sox owner John Henry, urged Warren to run for president in four separate editorials and columns yesterday in the Sunday edition.

Despite the Globe’s predictable cheerleading, Kaplan said the polling makes it “even more unlikely” that the 65-year-old freshman senator who claims to be part Cherokee will get into the fight.

“Today,” Kaplan said, “we see Clinton with huge leads everywhere.”


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