Donald Trump is outpolling all other Republican candidates in New Hampshire except for Jeb Bush, according to a new survey released Tuesday, though if you ask the real estate mogul himself, he thinks he should be in first.
In a poll fielded immediately after their presidential announcements last week, Bush earned 14% of the vote in the crowded GOP field, followed by Trump with 11%. Nearly a third of respondents said they were undecided.
The results from Suffolk University are the clearest indication yet that Trump, the billionaire with a penchant for bombastic rhetoric and unorthodox claims, is catching on with Republican voters early on in the cycle.
Trump referenced the poll Tuesday night while speaking to the Maryland GOP, saying he can’t believe he’s behind Bush.
“I’m not thrilled, cause how could Bush be in first place?” Trump said. “This guy can’t negotiate his way out of a paper bag!”
Pollsters tend to caution that surveys more than six months before any votes are cast may simply be registering each contender’s name recognition – of which Trump has plenty. Trump also joins a crowded GOP field in which none of the candidates — including Bush — have been able to break out of the pack.
In the 2012 cycle, several candidates with a penchant for making headlines with their controversial claims – such as businessman Herman Cain and former Rep. Michele Bachmann and even Trump himself (though not an official candidate) – also garnered top spots in early polls only to crash to Earth as the campaign dragged on.
Trump, as well, is a deeply polarizing figure in the Granite State – 49% of respondents said they had an unfavorable opinion of him, while only 37% viewed him positively.
Despite New Hampshire Republicans’ negative impressions of Trump, few want to see him left off the debate stage in August. The poll found 60% thought Trump should make the cut for the debates, more than wanted to see George Pataki, John Kasich, Bobby Jindal or Lindsey Graham on the stage. Overall, 35% said Trump should be left out of the debates.
“Trump’s controversial candidacy is being constructed in a way that gives him visibility and exposure in the short term but may also limit his growth in the long run, like a glass ceiling,” David Paleologos, who directed the poll, said in a statement.
New Hampshire, with its first-in-the-nation primary, is a key battleground for 2016 hopefuls.Trump has made five visits to the Granite State this year, according to p2016, a website that tracks candidate visits to the early states.
Trailing Bush and Trump were Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at 8%, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio at 7%, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 6% and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at 5%. No other candidates earned more than 5% in the Suffolk survey.
When asked for their second choice candidate, 14% of likely GOP voters named Bush, 13% selected Rubio, 10% picked Walker, 7% said Trump and 6% said businesswoman Carly Fiorina.
Suffolk surveyed 500 likely New Hampshire Republican voters between June 18 and June 22, yielding a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.