Top of the ballot: GOP Senate primaries take shape in N.H., California

TOP OF THE BALLOT TODAY: Polls show GOP Senate primaries taking shape, as New Hampshire and California candidates open up leads; Crist’s name pops up in Florida GOP investigation.

Ayotte up in New Hampshire

Good news for the national GOP: Former New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte holds a wide lead in her state’s GOP Senate primary, according to a new poll.

The race hasn’t seen much in the way of primary polling, and the favorite Ayotte looks strong but not unbeatable. Ayotte leads businessman Bill Binnie 43-19 in the Public Policy Polling (D) survey, with businessman Jim Bender at 11 percent and attorney Ovide Lamontagne at 5 percent.

Ayotte and Binnie carry strong favorable ratings, even though they are still unknown to large chunks of voters. Ayotte has a 50 percent favorable rating, compared to 12 percent unfavorable, while Binnie’s numbers are 40 and 12.

Lamontagne, meanwhile, is in less favorable territory, with 20 percent rating him positively and 22 percent negatively.

Campbell up in California

In more primary polling, a bipartisan survey in California shows former Rep. Tom Campbell (R-Calif.) opening up a 31-17 lead on Carly Fiorina in their Senate primary.

The Capitol Weekly/Probolsky Research poll also had state Assemblyman Chuck DeVore at 14 percent.

This is the biggest lead we’ve seen yet from Campbell, who turned in a strong first quarter of fundraising and appears to have the momentum in the race.

The poll also tested the state’s GOP governor primary. There, state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner has come withing 47-19 of former eBay CEO Meg Whitman. A recent Field Poll had Whitman up 63-14.

Other updates

-A federal investigation into the Florida Republican Party’s finances appears to be touching on not only Marco Rubio, but also on Gov. Charlie Crist.

-Mitt Romney on Wednesday endorsed state Sen. Joe Heck’s (R) campaign against freshman Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.), along with the reelection campaigns of Nevada Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki (R) and Rep. Dean Heller (R-Nev.).

-Former state Sen. Dan Webster (R), whose decision to stay out of the race against Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) cleared the way for several lesser-known candidates, looks as though he will run for the seat after all. That won’t sit well with the rest of the primary field.

-Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), who is likely to face a difficult reelection bid in 2012 thanks to an affair with a former staffer, raised just $50 in the first quarter.