- The Washington Times - Monday, February 9, 2015

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is leading a host of potential 2016 GOP hopefuls in New Hampshire in a new poll taken immediately after 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney announced he would not be running again in 2016.

Mr. Bush was the first choice of 16 percent of likely GOP primary voters in New Hampshire, followed by Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky at 13 percent and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at 12 percent in the Bloomberg Politics/Saint Anselm College Poll conducted by Purple Insights.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was next at 10 percent, followed by retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee at 6 percent apiece and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida at 5 percent.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and businessman Donald Trump were tied at 3 percent apiece, followed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania at 2 percent apiece, then former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry at 1 percent apiece.

Fourteen percent were undecided.

Mr. Bush’s 61 percent favorability rating among GOP primary voters was second only to Mr. Paul’s 63 percent rating (26 percent viewed Mr. Bush negatively and 25 percent viewed Mr. Paul negatively).

But 41 percent of primary voters said Mr. Bush’s support for immigration reform is a deal killer for them, versus a third who said it’s something to consider and 22 percent who said it’s not a real problem.

GOP primary voters in the Granite State were a bit more tolerant of Mr. Bush’s support for Common Core education standards, which are opposed by the conservative grassroots: 40 percent say his support of the standards isn’t a real problem, compared to 28 percent who say it’s something to consider and a fifth who say it’s a deal breaker.

Six in 10 GOP primary voters also say Mr. Bush’s potential candidacy is based more on his family connections to politics, compared to three in 10 who say it’s based more on his unique qualities and achievements. At the same time, six in 10 GOP voters also said his status as the son of a former president and the brother of a former president isn’t a real problem for them, compared to one in five who considered it a deal-breaker.

The poll was conducted from Jan. 31-Feb. 5 and the sample of 400 Republican primary voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

Mr. Romney, who led a poll in New Hampshire taken in November by 19 percentage points, announced Jan. 30 he would not mount another run for the White House in 2016.

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