- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 7, 2016

Billionaire businessman and GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump has a 14-point lead over his nearest Republican rival, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, in a new poll on the early state of New Hampshire.

Mr. Trump was at 29 percent in the survey from the Democratic-leaning firm Public Policy Polling, with Mr. Rubio at 15 percent.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich were next at 11 percent apiece, with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas at 10 percent each.

“If the Republican establishment really wants to stop Donald Trump in New Hampshire, it might require some more people dropping out of the race,” said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling. “Four different establishment candidates all polling in double digits is what’s allowing Trump to have such a big lead in the state.”

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina were at 4 percent each, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky was at 3 percent, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania were at 1 percent each.

The poll also shows Mr. Trump appears to have the most firmly committed supporters. Sixty-eight percent of his backers say they’re firmly committed to him, compared to 63 percent for Mr. Cruz, 58 percent for Mr. Bush, 46 percent for Mr. Rubio, 40 percent for Mr. Christie and 34 percent for Mr. Kasich.

Mr. Trump picked up 2 points of support since a PPP survey released in early December, when he was in the lead at 27 percent.

Other candidates who picked up support since that poll were Mr. Bush, who was up 5 points from 5 percent, Mr. Rubio, up 4 points from 11 percent, and Mr. Kasich, up 3 points from 8 percent.

Mr. Bush’s favorability rating also went from a negative 38 percent/45 percent split to a positive 44 percent/42 percent split, and Mr. Kasich’s rating improved from a 38 percent/35 percent split to a 46 percent/30 percent split.

Mrs. Fiorina actually had the best favorability rating, with a 56 percent/25 percent split. Mr. Rubio had a positive 55 percent/28 percent split, Mr. Christie had a 53 percent/29 percent split, and Mr. Trump had a 49 percent/44 percent split.

Overall, support for Mr. Carson dropped 5 points, from 9 percent, and support for Mr. Cruz dropped 3 points, from 13 percent.

But Mr. Cruz still had a positive 54 percent/29 percent favorable/unfavorable split and was the most frequent second choice of voters. He was also the most frequent second choice of Trump supporters, at 37 percent to Mr. Rubio’s 10 percent.

“If the Donald Trump collapse that’s been expected for six months but has yet to materialize ever does become a reality, Ted Cruz is going to be in a very good position in New Hampshire,” Mr. Debnam said. “He’s next in line for Trump voters, and it’s not even close.”

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