A new poll from NH1 News Network finds Donald Trump continuing to dominate the Republican nomination race in New Hampshire, while Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush battle for a distant 2nd place. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who recently campaigned in New Hampshire, has faded to 5th place in the first primary state.
Trump leads his rivals by a massive 20 points, earning the support of 31.7 percent of Republicans and Independents likely to vote in the primary February 9th. Bush is second with 11.9 percent, followed by Kasich with 11.8 percent. Both Bush and Kasich have spent millions on advertising in New Hampshire and have each made dozens of appearances in the state that puts a high value on direct, retail politicking.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whose affiliated super PAC has also spent considerable money on advertising, is third with 11 percent. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who has spent relatively little time campaigning in New Hampshire, is a close 4th with 9.7 percent. Rubio is 5th with 8.9 percent.
With Cruz currently leading in Iowa, the outcome in New Hampshire is critical for the four candidates making the biggest claim on the Republican establishment lane for the nomination. Bush, Kasich, and Christie have made their performance in New Hampshire almost a litmus test for their candidacies. It is likely only one of them can survive New Hampshire.
With just over a month until the first votes are cast, the competition between these three will intensify. Bush does better than Kasich among Republican voters, while Kasich edges Bush among Independents who plan to vote in the GOP primary.
Trump dominates both registered Republicans and Independents. Trump also does best among women voters in New Hampshire.
Rubio has not made New Hampshire a focus of his campaign, but his campaign is under pressure to have a strong showing in an individual state somewhere. Rubio isn’t intensively campaigning in any individual state, apparently choosing to run a national campaign, hoping to survive until other candidates drop out.
The risk for Rubio is that he will fade in each early state as other candidates step up their campaign activity. At some point, Rubio will have to make a stand in one of the early states to show he has the fortitude and temperament to run a general election campaign. According to this latest poll, the state for Rubio’s stand isn’t going to be New Hampshire.