Kasich Surging in New Hampshire; Sanders’ Lead Clear

Jan. 21, 2016 — The new American Research Group (ARG) poll (Jan 15-18; 600 likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters) finds Ohio Gov. John Kasich forging his way into second place for the Feb. 9 New Hampshire Republican primary, and narrowing the gap between he and leader Donald Trump.

According to the data, Trump’s support has risen to 27 percent on the ARG scale, while Gov. Kasich has soared to the 20 percent mark. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) leads the group in the middle, but by only a single point: 10-9-9-8-5 percent, over Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL), and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), respectively.

The survey reveals Kasich’s strongest showing to date in a place outside of Ohio. The Buckeye State chief executive has been working hard in New Hampshire, virtually forsaking Iowa in hopes of scoring a better-than-expected performance in the first-in-the-nation primary state. Should this late polling trend be verified, it would appear that he could achieve such an objective.

Recording a strong second place finish, for example, would at the least make Kasich highly competitive for his native Ohio in that state’s Winner-Take-All primary scheduled for March 15. Securing a win there with 66 delegates would go a long way toward fracturing the GOP vote. Should such a split become deep enough to prevent any candidate from reaching a majority within the pledged delegate universe, a deadlocked national convention would result. This means Republican leaders would be forced to conduct multiple roll call votes and continue until someone finally emerges with majority support. Such a result hasn’t happened in a Republican conclave since 1940.

The American Research Group, headquartered in New Hampshire, has conducted three Granite State polls since just before Christmas. Kasich is developing a positive trend, going from 13 to 14 to now 20 percent in the three successive surveys. The only other candidate to gain support in each of the three studies is Trump (21-25-27 percent). All others, including Texas Sen. Cruz, have either begun to fall or remained stagnant.

Turning to the Democrats, several new polls are finding that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) is cementing his New Hampshire lead over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the national leader and favorite for the nomination.

Five pollsters have surveyed the small state Democratic electorate since Jan. 7, with six different studies. All now project Sanders finishing first though the new CNN/WMUR television poll, conducted by the notoriously inaccurate University of New Hampshire Survey Center, posts him to an unrealistic 60-37 percent lead, largely through methodological flaws. The other pollsters (ARG (2), NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist College; Fox News; and Monmouth University) all find the Vermont senator scoring between 49 and 53 percent.

The most recent survey, ARG’s Democratic segment (Jan. 15-18; 600 likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters) finds Sanders ahead of Clinton, 49-43 percent, which is probably the most accurate depiction.

Should the senator score the New Hampshire upset — a state possessing only 32 Democratic delegates — his bump will likely be short-lived. The campaign turning south beginning in South Carolina on Feb. 27, and then to Super Tuesday on March 1 where seven more southern states will vote, should allow the former First Lady and New York senator to return to a dominant position within the party nominating structure. Clinton records strong polling numbers among African Americans and more moderate Democratic primary voters, statistics that bode well for her in the states residing below the Mason-Dixon Line.

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