Jeb Bush and Scott Walker are at the top of the heap of potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates in New Hampshire, a new poll shows.
The WMUR Granite State survey
released Thursday finds Bush, the former Florida governor, with 17 percent support among likely 2016 Republican primary voters, followed closely by Wisconsin Gov. Walker – who's surging in popularity since his speech last month
at the conservative Iowa Freedom Summit – with 12 percent.
"Scott Walker is interesting here … because less than half the voters in the state know him, but he has the highest net favorability rating of all the Republican candidates, so there's something about Scott Walker that Republicans seem to like," said Andy Smith of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, which conducted the poll.
Following the leaders were New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, each of whom received 9 percent support. Retired pediatric neurosurgeon and conservative activist Ben Carson received 8 percent support.
Polling below 5 percent were former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
"This is absolutely a wide-open race," Smith said. "In fact, this is the first time in the modern primary cycle since 1972 that the Republican primary field has been this wide open."
The survey also is the first from the TV station since former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney declared he wouldn't take a third run at the White House, The Hill
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton maintains her formidable edge, the poll shows.
"She's still leading clearly over the rest of the Democratic candidates," Smith said. "Clinton is at 58 percent. Then, it drops way off to 14 percent for Elizabeth Warren."
Still, the poll shows Clinton, who has yet to declare her candidacy, is vulnerable, Smith said.
"Only about 31 percent think she's the most believable," Smith said. "Only 32 percent of primary voters think she's the most likable candidate, so there is some weaknesses that she has there."
The poll shows more than 75 percent of voters in each party have not made a decision about their 2016 presidential choice.
The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percent for Republicans and 5.7 percent for Democrats.
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