Bush Surging in NH?

Jan. 29, 2016 — A new Emerson College Polling Society New Hampshire presidential primary poll suggests former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is moving into second place among Republicans ahead of his principle establishment rivals, governors John Kasich (R-OH) and Chris Christie (R-NJ).

According to the ECPS survey results (Jan. 25-26; 373 likely New Hampshire GOP primary voters), Donald Trump maintains a large lead over the Republican field posting 35 percent preference. Bush followed with 18 percent, just ahead of Gov. Kasich’s 14 percent standing. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) scores nine percent; Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) eight percent; and Gov. Christie just five percent among the polling respondents.

However, these numbers are unsubstantiated. No other survey research organization has detected such a Bush forward drive. Though the Polling Society is comprised of students from Emerson College in neighboring Massachusetts, their track record has been impressive, coming closer to the actual final result in the 2013 Virginia governor’s race than the professional firms, for example. The American Association for Public Opinion Research extended the organization membership status in recognition of their previous work.

The Society’s credentials notwithstanding, the last nine polls conducted in New Hampshire from the Jan. 7-26 period finds Bush reaching 10 percent just once, and averaging 7.9 percent as calculated from the remaining eight surveys through seven different polling firms.

The New Hampshire-based American Research Group conducted three of the surveys during this January polling period and arrive at different conclusions. According to their cumulative studies, Bush remains stagnant at eight percent, while Trump actually gains support, moving from 25 to 27 to 31 percent, from their surveys beginning on Jan. 7 and ending on the 25th of the month.

Gov. Kasich, in the three ARG surveys, went from 14 to as high as 20, before dropping down to 17 percent. Sen. Rubio fell in each of the two latest polls, beginning at 14, receding to 10, and then to nine percent. Sen. Cruz scored nine percent in each of the first two polls, and then increased his standing to 12 percent in the survey concluded Jan. 25. Gov. Christie started at 10 percent, went to nine, and then eight percent in the research trio.

Yet, it is the third ARG poll, conducted in a very similar time period to the Emerson College Polling Society’s effort (Jan. 3-25 as compared to Jan. 25-26) that provides the best comparison data. Like Emerson, ARG forecasts a strong first place position for Trump (35 percent to 31 percent), but finds a much different tally for Gov. Bush. As we stated earlier, Bush scored 18 percent in the Polling Society study, but only eight percent in the ARG data recorded only a day earlier.

Consistent findings are recorded for all of the other candidates, however. ARG sees Trump, Kasich, Cruz, Rubio, and Christie posting 31, 17, 12, nine, and eight percent, respectively, while the Polling Society projects the same group at 35, 14, eight, nine, and five percent. Both sequences are relatively consistent except for the 10-point gap relating to ex-Gov. Bush.

The Polling Society analysis attributes Bush’s stronger showing to the heavy advertising his campaign and related Super PAC are financing. The Super PAC most closely aligned with the Bush presidential effort, America Rising, is reported to have already spent $12 million in New Hampshire alone, according to OpenSecrets.org. Yet, no other firm sees the Bush surge, thus offering a reasonable rebuke to the society’s explanation.

The New Hampshire primary is scheduled for Feb. 9, and will answer several major questions. If the Polling Society data is incorrect and Bush finishes as poorly as the other pollsters suggest, while Trump does well, it’s conceivable the Granite State could signal the beginning of the end of the former’s effort.

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