Poll shows Nikki Haley surging ahead of DeSantis as Trump maintains frontrunner status

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GOFFSTOWN, N.H. – A new poll conducted by the Saint Anselm College Survey Center (SACSC) at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics (NHIOP) finds former president Donald Trump leading his closest challengers by a 3-1 margin among New Hampshire Republican Presidential Primary likely voters.  Forty-five percent of respondents expressed their preference for Trump on the ballot test, a 30-point lead over his closest challenger, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley.

In the wake of the first Republican presidential candidate debate, Haley has moved into second place behind Trump with 15% support.  She is now the leading alternative to Trump, besting former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on the ballot test among respondents who have an unfavorable impression of the former president, 32%-29%.  She carries a 37-point net positive favorability (65%-28%), second only to South Carolina Senator Tim Scott (+51%), suggesting she has room to grow her support.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has seen his support decline by 18 points since March and now trails Haley with 11%, slightly ahead of former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (10%). Just 11% of respondents with a favorable opinion of Trump select DeSantis on the ballot test, along with 12% that have an unfavorable opinion of Trump, suggesting that he doesn’t appeal to either group strongly enough to have maintained his early status as Trump’s strongest challenger.

Former Governor Chris Christie has succeeded in branding himself as the harshest critic of Trump, but at a cost.  Although he has picked up the support of 29% of respondents who have an unfavorable impression of Trump, he has virtually no support from respondents who view Trump favorably.  His 46-point net negative favorability (25%-71%) will likely put a hard ceiling on his potential growth.

New Hampshire Institute of Politics Executive Director Neil Levesque stated, “As in 2016, opposition to Trump is diluted over several candidates, preventing the consolidation that would be necessary to deny him a third straight nomination.  Furthermore, a fractured field means the eventual Republican nominee will have to work to consolidate their support against President Joe Biden if he stands for re-election.  Only 46% of the Republican primary voters tested say that they would vote for Christie in a general election match-up with Biden.  73% would vote for DeSantis, 74% would vote for Trump or Haley, and 76% would support Scott.  This reflects a deep polarization in the primary electorate between supporters and detractors of Trump.”

The poll can be seen in full here.


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