A new poll of voters likely to take part in the New Hampshire Republican primary shows Donald Trump with the biggest lead he has yet held in the GOP race. The Monmouth University poll, released Tuesday morning, has Trump at 24 percent — double the support of the next-highest Republican, Jeb Bush, at 12 percent.
Scott Walker and John Kasich are tied for third at 7 percent apiece — a significant drop for Walker from recent months and a significant advance for Kasich, who announced his candidacy on June 21. Following are Marco Rubio, at 6 percent; Ben Carson and Rand Paul, 5 percent; Chris Christie, 4 percent; Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorina, 3 percent; and the rest of the field.
The survey suggests Trump's appeal is strong across the spectrum of voters likely to go to the polls in the New Hampshire primary. Among registered Republicans, his support is 21 percent. Among independents, who are allowed to vote in the GOP primary, his support is 29 percent. Trump leads among voters who call themselves very conservative, as well as among those who call themselves somewhat conservative. Only among moderate voters does Bush lead, and even among them, Trump is just 4 points behind.
Trump has a huge lead among voters under 50 years old — 30 percent to Rand Paul's 12 percent. Trump also has a solid advantage among voters over 50 — 21 percent to Bush's 13 percent.
Trump is still a divisive figure, but the new poll shows him in (barely) positive territory on the favorability question — 47 percent of those surveyed have a favorable view of Trump, while 44 percent have an unfavorable view. Trump's 47 percent favorable rating is the same as Bush's, although Bush has a lower (37 percent) unfavorable rating.
The poll, of 467 New Hampshire voters, was conducted from July 23 to July 26 — after Trump's much-discussed July 18 attack on two-time New Hampshire primary winner John McCain's war record. "The controversy over comments about John McCain's war service do not appear to have slowed the Trump steamroller," said Patrick Murray, head of Monmouth University polling, in a statement accompanying the poll results. While the McCain comments could still damage Trump — voter reactions almost always take longer to show up than the instant controversies that consume the political class — at least so far, Trump is suffering no harm in New Hampshire.
Trump's statements on immigration have received a lot of attention, but the new poll suggests he is the current voter favorite on the basis of a wide range of issues. "When asked to choose the most important issue in deciding who they will support for the GOP nomination, New Hampshire primary voters select national security (25 percent) and the economy (23 percent) as their top concerns, followed by taxes and government spending (20 percent)," Monmouth reports. Immigration was fourth, with 13 percent, followed by social issues at eight percent.
Trump's 12-point lead is by far his largest so far in New Hampshire. In an NBC survey of state voters taken around the time of the McCain remarks, Trump led by seven points. In CNN and Suffolk polls released in June, Bush held leads of five and three points, respectively.
The new poll will do nothing to allay the concerns of Republican establishment figures who fear Trump is damaging the GOP brand among general election voters. (Trump is currently in second place in Iowa and leading in national surveys.) Many political strategists believe it is only a matter of time before the Trump bubble bursts, either by Trump's own hand or as a result from attacks by rival candidates. But the new Monmouth poll suggests that so far, the voters of New Hampshire are not going along.