Poll: Bush leads GOP in New Hampshire

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Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has a narrow lead over a packed field of Republicans in New Hampshire, the first-in-the-nation primary state, according to a new poll.

The WMUR Granite State poll released late Wednesday found Bush in the lead with 15 percent support, followed by Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioColorado GOP Senate race to unseat Dem incumbent is wide open Rubio: I hope I can trust whoever wins with the nuclear codes Rubio faces Trump-like challenger in primary MORE (Fla.) at 12 percent, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at 11 percent and Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulRepublicans question Trump's trip to Scotland Hate TV customer service? So does your senator Overnight Cybersecurity: Senate narrowly rejects expanding FBI surveillance powers MORE (Ky.) at 10 percent.

In the second tier of contenders, Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) takes 6 percent support, followed by businessman Donald Trump at 5 percent, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry at 4 percent, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina at 4 percent, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee pulling 3 percent each.

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“Bush, Rubio, Walker and Paul seem to be separating themselves slightly from the rest of the field but this is likely due to press attention rather than any real campaign work,” said Andrew Smith, Director of the UNH Survey Center.

The survey is good news for Bush. The New Hampshire primary comes on the heels of the Iowa caucuses, which are historically kind to social conservatives. A Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday had showed Bush in seventh place in the Hawkeye State, taking only 5 percent support.

New Hampshire primary voters are known to have a fondness for mainstream conservative candidates. In 2012, eventual nominee Mitt Romney easily won the primary, taking 39 percent and beating the next closest Republican by 16 points.

Walker, Bush, Christie and Rubio are among the candidates who will be looking to fill Romney’s role as the favorite among mainstream conservatives in 2016.

Among those, the WMUR poll is loaded with bad news for Christie. Not only is he buried in ninth place, 13 percent of voters in the state said they wouldn’t even consider voting for him. He is ahead of only Trump in that category.

Christie also has the second-worst favorability rating in the state, with 40 percent saying they view him negatively.

New Hampshire also has a fierce independent streak, which Paul will be looking to exploit. Paul’s father, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) finished second in the New Hampshire primary in 2012, taking 22 percent.

Paul has the third-highest favorability rating in the state, with 50 percent saying they have a positive opinion of him.

Rubio has the best favorability rating by far, with 60 percent saying they view him favorably.

The WMUR Granite State poll of 706 New Hampshire adults was conducted between April 24 and May 3 and has a 3.5-point margin of error.

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