NEC Poll Shows 2012 GOP Nominee Holds Early NH Lead; Democrats Still Love Hillary Clinton | New England College
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NEC Poll Shows 2012 GOP Nominee Holds Early NH Lead; Democrats Still Love Hillary Clinton

While the love affair between New Hampshire Democrats and Hillary Clinton shows no sign of cooling down, the GOP field in the 2016 campaign for President is filled with plenty of choices and no clear leader.  Given the recent fundraising efforts of former Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney, our most recent poll reserved a slot for the former Massachusetts Governor. And what do you know?

Among 346 likely republican New Hampshire voters, Mitt Romney posted a narrow lead in a crowded field of GOP hopefuls.  Romney grabs 22% support, followed by Senator Rand Paul at 16% and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in third at 13%.  Texas Republican Ted Cruz received 10%, and Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan each took 7% in this poll.  Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker earned 5%, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal received 3%, and Rick Santorum received 2%.  15% of respondents said they were unsure.  The margin of error in this poll is 5.25%

“This race is wide open and for now, it looks like the only thing that really shakes up the race is the presence of Mitt Romney as an option for voters,” concludes Dr. Ben Tafoya, Director of the NEC Poll. “Chris Christie’s political troubles in his home state have not affected his polling numbers.  But we have seen early visits from some of these names, such as Bobby Jindal, and that also has had no effect on the polls.  It’s early and voters are still gravitating to the most familiar names in the race.”

Of the GOP candidates, Mitt Romney’s support cuts across all ideological sides as measured by New Hampshire’s support for Medicaid expansion from the most recent NEC Poll. While Rand Paul’s support is stronger among those who oppose expansion; Romney sees consistent support across the board. Chris Christie does better among those favoring Medicaid expansion than those opposed. Interestingly, those who favor Medicaid expansion have the highest level of “unsure” picks in this poll.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton dominates.   Among 318 likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters, Secretary Clinton receives 60% support, followed by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren at 13%, Vice President Joe Biden with 4%, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at 3%, and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley with 1%. 19% of respondents say they are unsure. The margin of error is 5.52%

“The only truly notable shift in the numbers is the rise in support for Elizabeth Warren and a drop in support for Vice President Biden,” explains Dr. Wayne Lesperance, Director of the Center of Civic Engagement at NEC. “This poll does not bode well for the Vice President.  Despite his daily connection to President Obama and this White House, it is not translating into any measureable democratic party support.”

A final footnote about the democrat’s primary poll: Hillary Clinton enjoys nearly identical support among both men and women; there is virtually no gender gap in this poll.  61% of women support the former Secretary of State and 58% of men support her.