Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) holds a big lead among New Hampshire Republicans in the early primary state, drawing 21 percent support among likely voters in a poll by news network NH1 released Wednesday.

The governor is the biggest beneficiary of 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s decision to sit out 2016. Two weeks ago, when Romney was flirting with a bid, Walker won 8 percent of the vote. Romney led that poll with 29 percent.

{mosads}Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is second, with 14 percent, followed by Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, each at 8 percent. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee follow, at 6 percent, with Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) at 5 percent.

Still, with almost 19 percent of respondents undecided or choosing someone not listed in the poll, there’s ample room for candidates to gain ground or widen leads.

Even so, the poll is another piece of good news for Walker, whose stock has been rising since he gave a widely praised speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit in January. He also led a recent poll in Iowa, which holds the first contest on the primary calendar.

Walker is also tied with Carson and Bush in a new poll of North Carolina Republican primary voters from Public Policy Polling. The three men are tied for the lead, with 14 percent of the vote each, and Huckabee is 1 point behind. Romney decided to withdraw in the middle of PPP’s polling period, so it’s unclear how that news affected the results.

But the PPP poll did show significant declines for some of the top candidates. Carson lost a hold on the top spot in the Tar Heel State after holding a small lead in a PPP poll in December. And Bush’s net favorability dropped 31 points in the state since December, a period during which he declared his intention to test the presidential waters.

Christie’s position also declined sharply since that December poll, when he won 14 percent, good enough for a third place showing. The new data shows him in seventh place, at 5 percent. PPP surveyed 400 Republican primary voters for this portion of its poll, which has a 5-point margin of error.

While assumed Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton has a huge lead over her party’s field in North Carolina, she is essentially tied when voters are asked for their 2016 general election preference. Clinton leads Walker by 1 point, is tied with Bush and Carson, and trailed Romney by 2 points.

Tags Hillary Clinton Marco Rubio Rand Paul

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