The more Marco Rubio rises in New Hampshire, the more attacks he takes from Jeb Bush and Chris Christie. Based on the seemingly constant attacks from Gov. Bush and Gov. Christie, Sen. Rubio must be rising. Earlier today, the U Mass-Lowell tracking poll indicated that Marcomentum, the term coined in Iowa, is real and continuing. This CNN/WMUR/UNH (University of New Hampshire) poll indicates that Sen. Rubio will take more incoming from his competitors in the days ahead.
The latest CNN/WMUR/University of New Hampshire poll was conducted after the Iowa Caucuses. Polling for this CNN/WMUR/UNH poll was conducted from “February 2-February 4, 2016. They stopped polling at 3 pm on Feb. 4. The previous CNN/WMUR/UNH polling was done starting on Jan. 29, 2016 and ended Feb. 1, 2016. The results are startling.
The polling conducted prior to the Iowa Caucuses showed Donald Trump getting 29%, compared with Sen. Cruz getting 12%, Sen. Rubio getting 11% and Gov. Kasich getting 10%. Gov. Christie and Gov. Bush each finished with 9% in the pre-Iowa Caucus poll. The post-Iowa poll is dramatically different. Mr. Trump still gets 29% but that’s where things get interesting. Sen. Rubio is getting 18%, followed by Sen. Cruz with 13%, Gov. Kasich with 12% and Gov. Bush with 10%. Sen. Rubio’s jump from 11% prior to the Iowa Caucuses to 18% after his surprising third-place finish in Iowa is unsettling news for the top tier campaigns.
The bad news for Gov. Christie is that his attacks against Sen. Rubio, where he’s called Sen. Rubio “the boy in the bubble” are backfiring. Gov. Christie has dropped from 9% on Caucus night to 4% tonight. Sen. Rubio’s support has jumped by 50% while Gov. Christie’s support has dropped by 50%.
This isn’t the only interesting news from the CNN/WMUR/UNH poll. Respondents were asked if there were any candidates that they wouldn’t vote for under any circumstances. Prior to the Iowa Caucuses, 31% said that they’d never vote for Donald Trump. Post-Iowa, that had jumped to 37%. On the same question, 3% of likely voters said that they wouldn’t vote for Sen. Rubio prior to the Iowa Caucuses. Now, 5% of likely voters in New Hampshire say that they wouldn’t vote for Sen. Rubio under any circumstances.
The reason why that question is important is that it indicates New Hampshire is totally open to voting for Sen. Rubio in the right situation whereas over one-third of likely New Hampshire voters wouldn’t vote for Mr. Trump. That’s important when viewed through a general election lens.
It indicates that Sen. Rubio would have a legitimate opportunity of flipping New Hampshire from being a blue state into being a red state. Trump would face an uphill fight in flipping New Hampshire. It’s worth noting that 13% of New Hampshire voters, roughly one in eight, said that they wouldn’t vote for Sen. Cruz under any circumstances. That isn’t good news, theoretically speaking, for Sen. Cruz and Mr. Trump for voters who rate electability as their top priority.
If Sen. Rubio’s momentum isn’t stopped by the time the candidates take the debate stage Saturday night, then Sen. Rubio would be in great shape to finish second. He might even be in position to challenge Mr. Trump. That isn’t a good situation for Mr. Trump to be in because he’s already underperformed in Iowa. If he flies into New Hampshire with a 20 point lead, then limps out with a 7 point win, people will question whether he can finish the deal.
Based on this polling, it isn’t a stretch to think that Gov. Christie’s campaign is on the rocks. It needs a change in strategy, too. Gov. Christie has tried belittling Sen. Rubio since Sen. Rubio arrived from Iowa. Christie’s numbers have dropped like a rock while Sen. Rubio’s support has jumped significantly.