Franklin Pierce/Boston Herald Poll Shows Close Republican Race in New Hampshire

Mar 30, 2015

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Boston Herald Poll

Franklin Pierce University and the Boston Herald released the first of what will be a series of Presidential Polls leading up to the 2016 New Hampshire primary, which historically has been a key indicator in national elections due to its “First in the Nation” position. The release of the Franklin Pierce/Boston Herald Poll took place at 9 am, Monday, during a live broadcast on Boston Herald radio and WMEX 1510.

The poll focused exclusively on New Hampshire Republicans and the key issues important to likely voters. The poll was conducted March 22-25, 2015, by well known political pollster Kelly Myers, president of RKM Communications and a Fellow at the university’s Marlin Fitzwater Center for Communications.

The Franklin Pierce/Boston Herald poll revealed a close contest among a long list of presidential hopefuls. The most popular Republican candidates were Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (56% favorable), Texas Senator Ted Cruz (55% favorable), Florida Senator Marco Rubio (55% favorable) and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (53% favorable). The margin of error is +/- 4.7 percent.

The poll also points to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as a viable candidate, despite finishing behind the front runners with a 48 percent favorability rating:

…the results suggest that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker could be in a position to move ahead in the near future. Unlike Jeb Bush, who is almost universally recognized (98%), many likely Republican primary voters (35%) have either never heard of Walker (22%), or are familiar with his name, but do not hold a view toward him one way or the other (13%). As he becomes better known, Walker has an opportunity to make a positive first impression on these voters, which could translate into increased support.

In addition to 98 percent name recognition among Republican voters, Gov. Jeb Bush was also considered the most likely candidate to win the Republican presidential nomination, holding a 3-to-1 lead on this question. He was also considered most likely to reach across the political aisle, holding a 2-to-1 advantage on that question.

The Franklin Pierce/Boston Herald poll also revealed that former President George W. Bush holds a 77 percent favorable rating among New Hampshire Republicans, suggesting the Bush name remains strong with Granite State Republicans.

Franklin Pierce University President Andy Card, who served in the White House for three different U.S. presidents, and is best known for being chief of staff to President George W. Bush, says the poll also reveals New Hampshire’s importance. 

“We’re nearly a year away from the primary, but already the country is turning its eyes toward the Granite State” says Card.  “New Hampshire is famous for its First-in-the-Nation primary and for its retail politics, which still matters here. Voters in this state are fiercely independent. They’re also influential because America pays more attention to this primary than any other.”

As to the key issues on voters minds, Republican primary voters were more likely to mention issues related to the economy and foreign affairs. Relatively few identified a domestic social issue as most important.

Franklin Pierce students and faculty took an active roll in the presidential polling research and analysis. “Students are writing stories for the Herald and university publications. They’re shadowing pollsters and reporters, following specific candidates, appearing on Herald Radio and campus TV—these students are gaining valuable experience,” says Dr. Kristen Nevious, Director of the Marlin Fitzwater Center for Communications, which sponsored a campus rally and live broadcast on Monday morning, as students and faculty watched the Herald Radio broadcast on a large screen in Spagnuolo Hall. The Herald broadcast featured Fitzwater Fellow and pollster Kelly Myers as well as Franklin Pierce student and 2015 Fitzwater Medallion Winner, Sarah Rodriquez ’15, as guests.  President Andy Card called in live from Spagnuolo Hall as the campus tracked social media trends as poll numbers were being shared across different mediums and platforms.

Franklin Pierce and the Boston Herald will release a second poll tomorrow at 9 am that focuses exclusively on Democratic candidates and the issues important to likely Democratic voters. Once again the results will first be broadcast by Boston Herald Radio at 9 a.m. Pollster and Fitzwater Fellow, Kelly Myers, will be a call in guest on that broadcast.

Visit the Polling Center for the full report.

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