- The Washington Times - Monday, March 9, 2015

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker have separated themselves a bit from the rest of the potential 2016 GOP field and sit in a virtual tie for the lead in a new poll.

Mr. Bush leads in the McClatchy-Marist poll with 19 percent among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, followed by Mr. Walker’s 18 percent.

Support for Mr. Walker has jumped 15 points, from 3 percent, in a December McClatchy-Marist poll, while Mr. Bush’s numbers have increased slightly from 16 percent.

Next was former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee at 10 percent, followed by retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 9 percent and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky at 7 percent.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was at 6 percent, followed by Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida at 5 percent, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas at 4 percent, and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry at 3 percent.

Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and former business executive Carly Fiorina were at 2 percent apiece, followed by Sen. Lindsey Graham at 1 percent. Thirteen percent were undecided.

Mr. Walker’s numbers were boosted by 24 percent support from “very conservative” Republicans and 25 percent from Tea Party supporters, while Mr. Bush leads among “moderate” Republicans with 26 percent.

The poll also showed that slightly fewer Republicans and GOP-leaning independents now say it is more important to have a Republican presidential nominee who stands on conservative principles, as opposed to a nominee who can win the White House.

Fifty-eight percent Republicans and GOP-leaning independents say it is more important for a candidate to stand on conservative principles, and 39 percent say it’s better to have someone who can win. In December, 64 percent chose principles and 33 percent thought winning was more important.

The poll said it was the first time since the question had been asked that support for a candidate who stands on principles as opposed to one who can win has dipped below 60 percent; it was 64 percent in July 2013 and 67 percent in December 2013.

The survey of 1,253 adults was taken March 1-4 and includes 426 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. That subset had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.7 percentage points.

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