Manchester, NH…PPP’s new New Hampshire poll finds Donald Trump in the strongest position of any poll we’ve done anywhere since he entered the race. Trump laps the Republican field with 35% to 11% for John Kasich, 10% for Carly Fiorina, 7% each for Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, 6% for Ben Carson, 4% each for Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio, and 3% for Rand Paul. Candidates falling outside the top ten in the state are Rick Perry at 2%, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, and Rick Santorum at 1%, and Jim Gilmore, Mike Huckabee, and Bobby Jindal all at less than 1%. Everyone does have at least one supporter on this poll.
To give an idea of how fundamentally the contest has shifted over the last four months none of Trump, Kasich, and Fiorina weren’t even included in the horse race question when we last polled the state in April. The candidate who’s made the most cataclysmic drop is Walker- he’s gone from leading at 24% all the way down to 7% in this newest poll.
Three other candidates who’ve seen dramatic decreases in their support are Cruz, Huckabee, and Paul. Cruz’s 10 point drop from 14% to 4% is a little bit misleading. When we last polled the state he was still enjoying the bump he received following his candidacy announcement. It’s worse news for Paul- he’s declined 8 points from 12% to 4% but more notably he’s seen a major blow to his image. In April he had a +29 net favorability rating at 54/25. That’s now dropped a remarkable 44 points to a -15 spread at 34/49. We’ve found Paul under water all four places we’ve polled since the Republican debate. It’s a similarly bad story for Huckabee- he’s dropped from 7% to less than 1% and he’s also seen his favorability go from +16 at 48/32 to -7 at 34/41. For Paul and Huckabee it’s not just that other candidates are passing them by- they are becoming increasingly unpopular themselves.
Trump’s advantage over the Republican field is thorough. He leads with Tea Party voters (44%), men (39%), independents (36%), conservatives (36%), voters who are most concerned about electability (35%), both younger voters and seniors (at 34% with each), evangelicals (32%), women (30%), and moderates (29%). Trump has a 56/32 favorability rating and he also leads when you match him with the other Republican hopefuls head to head- it’s 47/39 over Ben Carson, 53/35 over Scott Walker, 53/34 over Marco Rubio, and 56/33 over Jeb Bush.
Quick notes on some of the other candidates:
-Bush is really struggling. Only 38% of primary voters have a favorable opinion of him to 41% with a negative one. This is largely a function of his unpopularity with conservatives- among voters who identify themselves as ‘very conservative’ just 34% have a positive opinion of him to 48% who have a negative one. Only 3% say he’s their first choice for the nomination, putting him in a tie for 8th place with that group.-Kasich is on the move because of his strength with moderate voters. He gets 20% with them, putting him second to Trump, and making up for his own trouble on the right- he gets just 1% with ‘very conservative’ voters. Moderates are 29% of the GOP electorate on this poll, a lot more than in most places.
-New Hampshire makes another state where Ben Carson is the most well liked Republican, with 62% rating him favorably to 17% who have a negative opinion. Carly Fiorina is not far behind him at 58/19. Besides those two and Trump, the only other Republican seen positively by a majority of primary voters is Marco Rubio at 50/27.
-Besides Bush, Huckabee, and Paul other Republican hopefuls with negative favorabilities even among the GOP electorate in New Hampshire are Lindsey Graham at 20/43 (-23), Chris Christie at 35/46 (-11), Jim Gilmore at 4/13 (-9) George Pataki at 27/32 (-5), and Rick Perry at 34/37 (-3).
There’s been a big shift on the Democratic side since April as well. Bernie Sanders now leads the field in the state with 42% to 35% for Hillary Clinton, 6% for Jim Webb, 4% for Martin O’Malley, 2% for Lincoln Chafee, and 1% for Lawrence Lessig.
The main story in New Hampshire is how universally popular Sanders has become with the Democratic electorate. 78% see him favorably to only 12% with a negative opinion- that makes him easily the most popular candidate on either side with their party’s voters. Meanwhile Hillary Clinton’s favorability numbers have taken a little bit of a hit- she was at 78/10 with Democratic primary voters in April, but now she’s at a 63/25 spread.
The ideological divide is actually not that stark on the Democratic side. Sanders is ahead with ‘somewhat liberal’ voters (45/32), ‘very liberal’ ones (46/37), and moderates (40/36) alike. And although there is certainly a gender gap Sanders is ahead with both men (44/30) and women (41/38). But the real big divide we see is along generational lines- Clinton is ahead 51/34 with seniors, but Sanders has a 45/29 advantage with everyone under the age of 65.
New Hampshire is somewhat a world unto itself in the Democratic race. We’re still finding Clinton well ahead everywhere else. But it’s clear there’s a real race now in the Granite State.