A long, hard fall for Rubio and Christie in New Hampshire

A new Granite State poll of likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters is out. The poll was conducted for WMUR by the University of New Hampshire.

The results can’t be taken too seriously because only 1 percent of those surveyed say they have definitely decided how they will vote. But the results are interesting, nonetheless.

Rand Paul is the leader at 15 percent. He is followed by “favorite daughter” Kelly Ayotte (who has given no indication of interest in running for president in 2016) at 13 percent. Then come Paul Ryan, also at 13 percent; Chris Christie at 12 percent; Jeb Bush at 7 percent; Ted Cruz at 7 percent; Donald Trump at 5 percent; Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal at 3 percent; and Marco Rubio at 2 percent.

With one exception, the order remains the same if one considers which potential candidate is the first or second choice of likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters. The exception is that Rubio leapfrogs Walker, Jindal, Trump, and Cruz. 11 percent of those surveyed consider Rubio their second choice.

This is clearly a good news/bad news poll for Rubio. A year ago, the Granite State poll had him tied for the lead with Rand Paul at 15 percent. Now he’s down to 2 percent. Presumably, Rubio’s decision to cast his lot with Chuck Schumer on immigration reform had more than a little to do with this dramatic loss of support.

But Rubio’s popularity as a second choice suggests that New Hampshire Republicans haven’t written him off. And this is confirmed by the poll’s favorability ratings which have him above water by 40 points. Indeed, only Paul Ryan does better here. 60 percent of those polled view the 2012 vice presidential candidate favorably, compared to only 15 percent who view him unfavorably.

Paul, Cruz, Walker, and Ayotte also do well in terms of favorability. Bush and Christie do not. They are barely above water, as is the case with Rick Santorum and Rick Perry.

For Christie, there is very little good news in this poll. Sure, he places fourth with 12 percent support. But last July, the Granite State poll had him in the lead at 21 percent.

Moreover, Christie is the second choice of only 4 percent of those polled. And his favorability rating of +1 percent is the lowest of any serious or even semi-serious potential candidate in the survey.

In sum, as Byron York says, it has been a long, hard fall for Marco Rubio in New Hampshire. But for Chris Christie, for whom the New Hampshire primary would probably be more crucial, the fall seems more ominous.

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