A new poll from a super PAC allied with the Bush campaign shows Donald Trump leading the GOP field with 29 percent of the vote in New Hampshire. John Kasich is second with 14 percent, followed by Jeb Bush with 12 percent.
Ted Cruz is in 4th with 10 percent, followed by Marco Rubio in 5th with 9 percent support. Chris Christie is just behind Rubio at 8 percent.
The poll, by Bush’s Right to Rise super PAC, was conducted on Sunday, before the start of the Super Bowl. The one-day poll was conducted entirely after the highly-watched Republican debate on Saturday.
The poll’s release provides a one-day snapshot of the race, with no indication of movement up or down by any of the candidates. It is likely, however, that Rubio’s relatively low standing in the poll reflects his poor performance in Saturday’s debate.
Christie’s support in this poll is higher than recent surveys, which could indicate a bump following the debate.
A number of polls have been released in the final days of the race in New Hampshire. The RealClearPolitics average of polls has Trump first, followed by Rubio, Kasich, Cruz, and Bush. The spreads between these final four are all within the polls’ margins of error.
Based on the last two elections in New Hamsphire, 20 percent of primary voters will make their final decision on Tuesday. If these late-deciders break for one of the four runner-ups, that candidate will finish a strong second.
Trump is likely to underperform his poll numbers, but his lead is so large that even some erosion in support won’t jeopardize his expected win.
If Bush or Kasich can secure second place, one of them will have the momentum to carry his campaign on to South Carolina and Nevada.
If Rubio finishes third or worse, his hopes of consolidating the “mainstream” Republican vote will be dashed, at least temporarily. Rubio has booked the third most paid advertising of any candidate, including Democrats, in New Hampshire. He entered the contest with media-driven momentum, following his better-than-expected showing in Iowa.
A failure to secure second place would keep Rubio firmly in the middle of the pack of candidates challenging Trump and Ted Cruz.
Kasich or Bush should be considered the favorite to secure second place at this point. Both are generally perceived to have done well in Saturday’s debate. Additionally, both men have spent considerable time in New Hampshire and have built solid turnout organizations.
With the state expecting a snow storm on election day, one or both of these candidates is likely to benefit from the groundwork laid in the state.