Saturday, February 6, 2016

New poll shows Rubio closing in on Trump in N.H.

By James Pindell

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — Front-runner Donald Trump holds a nearly 10 percentage point lead over his rivals in New Hampshire’s Republican primary race, but Senator Marco Rubio is closing the gap in the final days, according to a new poll released Friday.

Twenty-nine percent of voters surveyed said they backed Trump, and Rubio of Florida took second place with 19 percent. That’s the highest level of support Rubio has shown in any public survey since Trump entered the race in the summer.

 The Suffolk University/Boston Globe survey also showed former secretary of state Hillary Clinton in striking distance of Senator Bernie Sanders, who has a 9 percentage point lead in the Democratic primary.

A sizable majority of Democrats seem to have made up their minds, and a smaller portion of Republican voters questioned said they were certain of their choice in Tuesday’s primary. While 33 percent of Republicans in the poll said they could change their minds over the closing weekend, just 13 percent of Democrats said the same.

In the Republican race, Ohio Governor John Kasich placed third in the poll with 13 percent, former Florida governor Jeb Bush had 10 percent , US Senator Ted Cruz had 7 percent, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie fell to 5 percent, and Ben Carson had 4 percent.

Cruz won Monday’s Iowa caucuses, while Trump had a disappointing second-place finish, and Rubio finished closely in third.

“What a difference a caucus makes,” said David Paleologos, director of the Political Research Center at Suffolk University. “By exceeding expectations in Iowa, Marco Rubio is converting likability to electability, even more so than Ted Cruz, who, like many conservative Iowa winners of the past like Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, can’t seem to convert an Iowa win into a major showing in New Hampshire.”

Trump has led every poll of the New Hampshire primary since he announced his campaign.

The poll also showed that Sanders, who is from neighboring Vermont, leads Clinton, 50 percent to 41 percent, with 8 percent undecided.

The key factor contributing to Sanders’ lead over Clinton is his advantage among independent voters, who favor him over Clinton, 57 percent to 30 percent. Sanders also leads among men, 59 percent to 30 percent, and in the areas along the Vermont state line, 60 percent to 32 percent