A just released New Hampshire poll reveals three surprises. The first involves former President Donald Trump, the second, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and the third, and most unexpectedly, ex-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
National Research, Inc. conducted a poll for the American Greatness Super PAC (6/12-14; 500 NH likely Republican primary voters) and initially finds former President Donald Trump gaining strength in the Granite State. Despite facing a new federal indictment that includes 37 counts, Mr. Trump has actually added five percentage points to his New Hampshire support total in the June NR poll when compared to the firm’s May survey.
In the previous poll, Mr. Trump led Gov. DeSantis, 39-18%. In this most recent June study, Mr. Trump’s advantage is 44-12%, which is a net gain of eleven points for the former President. Mr. Trump rose five points, while Gov. DeSantis dropped six.
The DeSantis performance is the second surprise. While being down as little as 13 percentage points in New Hampshire to Mr. Trump according to a St. Anselm’s College survey released at the end of March, the Florida Governor then dropped to 20 points down in an April University of New Hampshire poll.
In this new June study, Gov. DeSantis now finds himself trailing by 32 percentage points, more than two and one-half times the original deficit reported at the end of March. Now officially a presidential candidate, the DeSantis organization will have to work overtime to reverse the trend in this important early primary state.
In the biggest surprise discovered in this poll, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, just recently announced as an official presidential candidate, bolts into a third place tie with Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) at 7% apiece.
Mr. Christie had been attracting a great deal of media attention saying he was running to get on the debate stage and take Trump to task for what Christie claims were mistakes during his Presidency and certain issue positions. Mr. Christie claims he “took Marco Rubio out,” during the 2016 debates and has similar plans for Trump this year.
While Mr. Christie is wagering high on his debate performance, earning a podium may not be so easy under the Republican National Committee debate qualification rules.
While Gov. Christie’s early polling performance suggests that he would clear a 1% national or early state poll hurdle after July 1st, the next two requirements might prove more difficult. While a prolific fundraiser during his time as Governor of New Jersey, attracting 40,000 contributors from around the country before the August 23rd debate may be a challenge. All of the donors cannot come from one state. A candidate must have at least 200 individual contributors from each of 20 states, thereby proving the campaign has a national organization.
The third requirement, and one to which former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson just recently objected, is to sign a pledge promising support for the eventual GOP presidential nominee. Gov. Hutchinson requested that the RNC amend this pledge to allow an escape from the promise if Mr. Trump, or any of the other candidates, is convicted of a felony. So far, the RNC is not adhering to the requested change. This pledge, too, may cause trouble for Gov. Christie, as well as some of the other candidates.
Regardless of what may or may not happen in the future, Gov. Christie is now officially in the competition. Though still in single digits according to the NR New Hampshire poll, he remains only five points behind Gov. DeSantis. If he does make the debate and follows through on his strategy of isolating and challenging Trump, it is unclear just how much the race will change. Even if he has success in turning some people against Trump, there is no guarantee they will come to Christie by default.
Finally, a point the pollsters made in their analysis revolves around New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu deciding not to run for President and to which candidate the bulk of his supporters would now back. At least in this first poll taken after his announcement, the results did not help Gov. DeSantis as expected. Instead, the pollsters indicated the Sununu support appeared to gravitate to either Sen. Scott or ex-Gov. Christie.
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