The potential Republican field for President continues to be a tight pack with no frontrunner, but perhaps there is a message in the fact that the one major potential candidate who has not yet been to New Hampshire is at the top of the heap – even if only by a slight margin.
Former Florida Sen. Jeb Bush receives 15 percent in the latest WMUR Granite State poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center.
That puts him in the lead in the first-primary state at a time when there are indications that is preparing for a run, although there has been no movement along those lines in New Hampshire, yet.
The poll shows the Democratic side unchanged. It is Hillary Clinton far, far ahead, as it has been and as it probably will continue to be – perhaps all the way to February 2016. She leads the next name on the list, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 58 to 18 percent. Her approval rating among likely Democratic voters is more than 80 percent.
Clinton will be in New Hampshire on Nov. 2 to campaign for Sen. Jeanne Shaheen; Warren has called into the state to boost the incumbent senator. No other Democrat receives more than 3 percent in the poll.
On the Republican side, although the party’s state convention was dominated by staunch conservatives who controversially passed a plank to the party’s platform calling for a “personhood amendment,” GOP voters in primaries traditionally prefer the middle of the road candidate.
That has left the door open for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, but so far he has failed to walk through. And that leaves the door open for Bush.
Christie, who will make his fourth visit to the state on Friday to campaign in the North Country with GOP candidate for governor Walt Havenstein, receives 12 percent. That’s well within the margin of error of 6 percent in the poll, putting him in a statistical dead heat with Bush.
But what does that say about how Christie, who’s becoming a familiar face, is being received so far in New Hampshire?
The same can be said for the remainder of the GOP pack, several of whom have also been here often, either recently or in the not-too-distant past.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee received support from 9 percent, while Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who will be back again next week, received 7 percent. Meanwhile, 2012 vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz received 6 percent, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker received 3 percent each. Texas Gov. Rick Perry received 2 percent, as did former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
Perhaps the most important point of today’s poll was that while these number represent who Granite Staters are leaning toward at the moment, nearly three-quarters of them (73 percent) have not made up their minds who they will vote for in the presidential primary of 2016.
That’s typical of New Hampshire.
After all, in a U.S. Senate race that is less than four weeks away, last night’s poll showed that 43 percent of voters had yet to make a final decision.
For tonight’s poll results, click here.