Bad news for Jeb: Walker surging in New Hampshire

Two weeks ago, I noticed that national polling and noted that the media-fueled boomlet for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker might be fading. If that’s true, it’s a phenomenon that is not apparent in a recent poll of GOP primary voters in New Hampshire.

The results of a new NH1 survey conducted by the Republican firm Reach Communications from April 8 – 9 suggests that Walker’s appeal to the Republican electorate in this critical Northeaster state continues to grow. The survey found Walker leading with almost 23 percent of the vote, well outside the survey’s 3.0 percent margin of error. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush tails Walker with just over 16 percent support followed closely by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) who secures the support of 15 percent of the New Hampshire GOP primary electorate.

For all the hype surrounding the campaigns of Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), they have not captured the imaginations of the Granite State’s voters. This poll found that just 9 percent of New Hampshire’s likely GOP voters back Cruz. Only 7 percent told Reach pollsters that they were planned to back Rubio in 2016.

Before Team Walker starts celebrating, the caveats associated with this poll abound.

“Since the poll was conducted using automated technology – and there are only so many buttons on a touch-tone phone – the ballot test included only those 11 candidates,” Politico reported. “In the last NH1 poll conducted in early February, Walker led Bush by 7 points.”

If this survey and others that show Walker gaining or surpassing Bush in support among New Hampshire’s likely GOP primary voters are accurate, it will present the former Florida governor with a daunting challenge. Unlikely to emerge from Iowa with a win, Bush will need to secure a victory in the Granite State in order to prevent his supporters jumping ship.

The candidate who wins in New Hampshire will head into the Nevada caucuses and the South Carolina primary in the pole position. If Bush is counting on Florida to rescue his presidential campaign at that point, he is likely to find that he will be as successful in that endeavor as was Rudy Giuliani.

Of course, this assumes that Walker and Bush both run for the presidency, and neither is a declared candidate as of yet. Wink.