Keep in mind that polls this early in a presidential cycle measure mostly name recognition rather than solid voter choice. Even with that caveat in mind — or perhaps because of it — the Bloomberg/St. Anselm poll released last night delivers bad news to Hillary Clinton and Democrats for 2016. Instead of a commanding lead over a field of emerging names, Hillary barely edges out most of the GOP field:
There’s no clear Republican front-runner in the New Hampshire presidential nominating contest, while Hillary Clinton retains an overwhelming advantage among Democrats in the Granite State’s first-in-the-nation primary.
Clinton’s advantage over her potential Republican rivals has narrowed, however, and the general election in the battleground state looks increasingly competitive, according to a new Bloomberg Politics/Saint Anselm New Hampshire Poll.
The poll also shows that Senator Marco Rubio is rising while support for his fellow Floridian, former Governor Jeb Bush, has fallen off. Rubio and Bush both were the first choice of 11 percent of likely Republican primary voters in the poll, while Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky each scored 12 percent.
The primary numbers are far less interesting than the general election match-ups. Hillary Clinton has far superior name recognition in other polls, and understandably so. Most of the GOP field work at the state level rather than federal, and even the Senators have only been on the national stage for the past four or five years. The Clintons have played on the national and international levels of politics and celebrity for twenty-three years.
Unfortunately for Hillary, familiarity breeds a certain level of contempt — and specifically for her. While her husband gets a 53/42 favorability rating from general-election voters, Hillary only gets 46/49 — slightly better than Barack Obama’s 44/53, but not by much. Like Obama, the high level of voter familiarity means that she can’t expect to see much upside in a campaign, since voters already know her well. In comparison, former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley only gets a 14/16, showing at least a lot of potential for positive outcomes in a campaign.
Not surprisingly, 46% is about her ceiling when compared with the other GOP candidates for head-to-head questions:
- Clinton v Walker: 46/40
- Clinton v Bush: 44/42
- Clinton v Paul: 46/43
- Clinton v Rubio: 44/42
That’s a bad sign for a candidate who is both this well known and who will also be seen as a continuity candidate for the Obama presidency, whether Hillary campaigns that way or not. The three Republicans with a longer history on the national level score within the margin of error, and Walker almost does as well despite only having operated on a national level since January.
The primary polling has some interesting aspects to it, but the overall impression is that voters in New Hampshire aren’t terribly committed to any Republican at the moment. The four Republicans in the head-to-head match-ups are the only candidates to get into double digits, but they range from 11-12%. Only Walker and Bush score double digits in the second-choice category, and Walker emerges as a leader when those choices are combined. If Walker can grab a lead in New Hampshire and in Iowa, he may end up attracting a lot of attention from activists and donors who want to narrow down the field quickly, as well as finding an option to Bush that grassroots voters will adopt.
In order for that to happen, Walker will have to keep building momentum early. If it does, our friends at RedState sense a sweep coming.