Trump Closes on Bush in N.H. Poll

Trump Closes on Bush in N.H. Poll
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A new poll shows Jeb Bush leading his fellow Republican presidential candidates in New Hampshire, but a surging Donald Trump is close behind.

The Suffolk University survey finds the former Florida governor ahead with 14 percent support, while Trump, the business magnate and reality TV star, receives 11 percent.

Bush and Trump are the only candidates who earned double-digit support. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie round out the top six, separated by just three percentage points. Notably, 29 percent of respondents said they were undecided.

Among voters who identify themselves as conservative, Trump leads with 13 percent, beating Walker and Bush by two and three percentage points, respectively. Among moderates, Bush tops the field with 20 percent, and Trump comes in second place at 9 percent.

“Jeb Bush continues to lead, but Donald Trump has emerged as an anti-Jeb Bush alternative in New Hampshire,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center.

Trump’s favorability rating, though, lags behind at 37 percent, while almost half of New Hampshire Republican voters – 49 percent – view him negatively. He is the only candidate with a net unfavorable mark. For that reason, Paleologos said, the Trump surge might not last very long.

“This is where Trump’s unfavorability is limiting people’s tolerance to hear what he has to say, and voters would rather see other candidates in the debate,” Paleologos said. “Trump’s controversial candidacy is being constructed in a way that gives him visibility and exposure in the short term but may also limit his growth in the long run, like a glass ceiling.”

Asked to “approve or deny” an appearance for each candidate on the debate stage, voters approved of Bush at the highest rate – 83 percent – while Trump came in 11th place with 60 percent.

The first GOP debate, hosted by Fox News on Aug. 6, will be limited to the top 10 candidates based on an average of recent national polls, although Fox recently announced a second forum for lower-tier candidates in response to criticisms from state party officials and local activists.

Trump is currently in 10th place in the RealClearPolitics national polling average. Recent national polls put Bush, Walker, and Rubio atop the GOP field, with Bush and Rubio attracting support from a diverse crowd of Republican voters. Overall satisfaction with the candidates increased since Suffolk’s March poll, from 55 percent to 69 percent.

Skeptics say the purveyor of “The Apprentice” is only running for president as a publicity stunt. Trump was well-received at a rally in the Granite State last week, where enthusiastic supporters praised his business acumen and unabashed criticisms of President Obama’s foreign policy.

Speaking of Trump’s wealth, a college student told RCP at the time: “I look at him from a business aspect and, I mean, $9 billion? If you can build yourself from nothing, [imagine] what can you do for the country.”

At his campaign launch earlier this month, Trump called out Bush for his support of Common Core education standards, among other issues.

The RealClearPolitics average of New Hampshire polls puts The Donald in fifth place with 8.8 percent support.

The survey of 500 likely GOP primary voters, conducted June 18-22, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

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