Donald Trump Maintains Commanding Lead In New Hampshire While Rubio Inches Up

Donald Trump remains the favorite of those likely to vote in New Hampshire's Republican Primary, but Marco Rubio is starting to inch up in the polls in the Granite State.

Republican Debate September 16

A new poll shows that Donald Trump is still at the top of the Republican field in New Hampshire, but also provides evidence of Marco Rubio’s rising status in the Republican field:

Support for Marco Rubio among likely New Hampshire primary voters has tripled in two months, according to the results of a Monmouth University poll out Monday.

Donald Trump has led every major poll in New Hampshire since July, and this one is no exception. With 26 percent, the Manhattan billionaire leads Ben Carson, who took in 16 percent. Rubio, who polled at 4 percent in the September Monmouth survey, surged to 13 percent this time.

“Marco Rubio’s standout performance in the last debate seems to have paid dividends in a contest that was supposed to be dominated by his former mentor Jeb Bush,” said Monmouth polling director Patrick Murray in a statement. “Rubio’s new-found support seems to be a little softer than for other candidates at the front of the pack, but it is not particularly solid for anybody.”

In terms of favorability, Rubio (net positive 43 points) trailed only Carson (45 points), while Trump had a net-positive rating of just 6 points. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie saw a big boost in his favorability ratings, and now enjoys a 54 percent favorable to 32 percent unfavorable standing. Two months ago, he drew a negative 38 percent to 46 percent result.

Behind Rubio, Ohio Gov. John Kasich earned 11 percent, followed by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at 9 percent, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 7 percent, Christie and Carly Fiorina at 5 percent each and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul at 3 percent. All other candidates polled 1 percent or less, with 4 percent undecided.

Given that he has led in every poll taken in the Granite State since July, the fact that Donald Trump still has a comfortable lead here isn’t really all that surprising, but it does indicate that his support continues to be solid and that the predictions that he was beginning to fade in the polls have largely proven to be premature at best. It’s also notable that we don’t see any evidence of the bump in the polls that Ben Carson has apparently received in Iowa reflected in this poll. For the most part, Carson is at the same level in New Hampshire that he has been for the past two months or so, with a fiew dips and rises along the way. These numbers also suggest that the national poll released last week showing Carson with a modest lead over Trump within the margin of error may be an outlier. Given the fact that the Republican electorates in Iowa and New Hampshire are distinctly different, and that the two states use different methods to select their preference among potential candidates, this isn’t entirely surprising. Carson’s distinctly conservative message is, not surprisingly, playing very well in Iowa, but its audience is limited in New Hampshire. Trump, on the other hand, is likely appealing to the same kind of voters in the Granite State that he is elsewhere in the country, and the fact that New Hampshire has an open primary that allows anyone to vote regardless of party affiliation could potentially benefit him in February, assuming his campaign puts together a well-run get out the vote effort.

Outside of Trump and Carson, the biggest news out of this poll is the fact that Marco Rubio seems to be continuing a rise in the polls that began after the second Republican debate and continued well into October, and that the kudos he was receiving in the wake of last week’s debate may start having an impact on the polls. Previously, Rubio has been polling in the high single digits in the Granite State, so numbers showing him edge close to Carson are certainly something worth paying attention to, especially since it arguably puts him in the class of contenders in what, for Republicans, is arguably the far more important contest when compared to the Iowa Caucuses. It’s still too early to tell if this is the moment that Rubio has been waiting for but, along with other good news he’s received over the past week, it’s likely to be well-received at his campaign headquarters.

Looking at the polling average, RealClearPolitics continues to show Trump comfortably in the lead at 29 percent, with Ben Carson well behind at 16% and Rubio in third place at 10%. Jeb Bush, who was once the predominant candidate in New Hampshire, is in fourth place at 8.5% and Ohio Governor John Kasich, who has done better in the Granite State than most other parts of the country thanks to an aggressive media campaign, right behind him at 8.3%. After that, there’s a significant drop off, with Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorina tied at an average of 6.5%, Chris Christie and Rand Paul tied at 3.8%, and every other candidate average one percent or less. Things are somewhat different in the Pollster average, with Rubio in sixth place at 6.4% behind candidates such as Fiorina, Kasich, and Bush as well as the two frontrunner, but that’s largely due to the fact that Pollster includes polls that may or may not be entirely reliable. In any case, even there it does seem as though the Florida Senator is ticking upward.

We’re likely to see more polling, from New Hampshire and elsewhere in the coming week, so it’s best to take one number with a grain of salt, but at least for now it seems clear that Donald Trump continues to be the dominant force in the Republican race and will likely stay there for the foreseeable future. Marco Rubio, though, seems to be inching upward and we may be at the beginning of a trend that puts him into serious contender status. Where he goes from there is, of course, anyone’s guess.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Kylopod says:

    and the fact that New Hampshire has an open primary that allows anyone to vote regardless of party affiliation could potentially benefit him in February

    Okay, show of hands. How many of you Dems would cross over to vote for Trump in an open primary, if given the chance?

    I would.

  2. gVOR08 says:

    @Kylopod: I would. Ratfwcking Republicans would be fun. And normally voting for the other side’s bad candidate is risky, in that there’s always a chance of an accident and he gets elected. But Trump’s less of a threat to the Republic than Rubio or Bush. They’d actually act on supply side econ, neocon foreign policy, repealing Obamacare, AGW denial, etc. With Trump there’s at least a chance he wouldn’t.

  3. CSK says:

    It’s not exactly true that NH has an open primary. Unaffiliated voters can vote in the primary for the Republican or Democratic candidate. Voters registered as Republican can only vote in the Republican primary, and voters registered as Democrats can only vote in the Democratic primary.

    I suppose you could un-register as a Democrat, register as a Republican, vote in the Republican primary, and then switch back from Republican to Democrat, but it seems like more hassle than most people would be willing to undertake.

  4. Stan says:

    @Kylopod: Please don’t do it. You’re an American before you’re a Democrat, and having a demagogue like Trump as the Republican nominee would be a national disgrace.

  5. michael reynolds says:

    Rubio “inches” up?


  6. James Pearce says:

    Rubio, who polled at 4 percent in the September Monmouth survey, surged to 13 percent this time.


    verb: surge; 3rd person present: surges; past tense: surged; past participle: surged; gerund or present participle: surging

    (of a crowd or a natural force) move suddenly and powerfully forward or upward.

    increase suddenly and powerfully, typically during an otherwise stable or quiescent period.

    (of an emotion or feeling) affect someone powerfully and suddenly.

    (of an electric voltage or current) increase suddenly.

    I, a native English speaker, would not qualify Rubio’s “rise” as a surge. It is neither sudden nor powerful, although I will admit it’s in an upward direction.

    If we really wanted to pump up Rubio’s chances, what’s wrong with referring to him as a glacier? Yeah, he’s slow, but he’s powerful and will change the landscape. It’s a generous assessment.

    Rubio’s campaign has been rather unimpressive.

  7. Kylopod says:

    @Stan: I know it’s fashionable to think of the two parties like sports teams, but that’s not how I see things. I oppose the Republicans not because they aren’t on my “team” but because I truly believe their policies are awful and will do indelible harm to loads of people, including me. The last time a Republican was president, the end result wasn’t a “loss” of the “game” for his “team,” but two hapless wars and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Now that’s my idea of a national disgrace.

  8. JohnMcC says:

    @Kylopod: I had actually determined to un-register as a Dem and re-register on the R-side simply for the pleasure of voting for Mr Trump down here in FL (where we have closed primaries). But from the polling, it does not seem it will be necessary; he’s likely to win it on his own. I turned it over several times in my head and decided that my single little vote would have just a bit more meaning if cast for Sen Sanders in the Dem primary — just to show that the left wing has a supporter or two in these parts.

    @Stan: I will not be more or less embarrassed by Mr Trump’s success as a spokesman for Republicans if he wins the nomination or if he should fade away. His importance in the campaign up to now says all one needs to hear about our politics and specifically the sadly diminished values of Repubs. We who know better have to decide what to do about it.

  9. Jen says:

    @CSK: Roughly 40% of NH voters are registered as “undeclared,” meaning they can pull either party ballot. Republicans and Democrats are each at about 30%. There are definitely enough votes there to make things interesting without too much trouble. You go in, tell them which primary you want to vote in, they mark you as either pulling an R or D ballot, which technically registers you as such for the primary. You vote, and then on your way out, there’s a table where you can re-register as undeclared. In other words, they’ve made it painfully easy to do this if you are undeclared.

    You can change your party registration any time other than the period between filing opening and the primary election, which is closed to changes. The last day one could have switched from R to D (or reverse) or R/D to undeclared was Oct. 30.

    I’m registered as undeclared, and I doubt I’d pull a R ballot just to mess with things. It really depends on down ticket races. Our former House Speaker is making noise about “primarying” Kelly Ayotte (he is a certifiable nut IMHO).

  10. Dave Francis says:

    The Democrats are absolutely unsympathetic to the American taxpayer, thinking that we have a responsibility to rescue every illegal alien from their dreary existence from every part of the world. Then ordain it and passing out a cornucopia of ‘freebies’, expecting they are obligated to vote illegally for a Leftists. Then we have the GOP higher echelon of legislators that they have no option but voting for a member who will succeed in importing more cheap labor. So each Political party has a predicament in this Catch 22 situation. Democrats want those illegal votes and will deliberately look the other way and Republicans are tightly knotted to their Special Interests. Both sides are committed to their Campaign contributors who are paying all the bills and must accept they have become the puppets of big and small businesses, corporate and industrial entities who never give pockets of dollars for nothing–they always want their pound of flesh?

    Donald Trump has a different resume as he is completely isolated from the temptation to align himself with any money lender. He hands are clean of any blood money? Its sensational fact that this real estate developer has piles of his own loose cash and are able to wave away the lobbyists who have almost obscenely fused into the very chambers of the House and Senate, waiting in the hallway to pounce on their own campaign victim. Lobbyists have been haunting the Congressional buildings forever, and are have been produced from the retired politicians in Congress.

    Whether or not we can amend Birthright citizenship, which overall is a giant cost to taxpayers and up to the courts? But the flow of non citizens can be staunched by rescinding the ‘Optional’ execution of the program and using the strict alternative MANDATORY E-Verify. Unauthorized labor will be taken into custody and deported,


    When you see that California is overpopulated with illegal aliens, you know the vote is going to the Left’s Hillary Clinton or Socialist Marxist Bernie Sanders in that particular state. The people who vote for these two people equally want all the things the Democratic Party can give them, which is a free walk through life, feeding off the backs of taxpayer’s. Tell me who isn’t going to vote for a Leftist who offers free healthcare, free education, low income housing, and many other programs, that was originally only obtained by US citizens. But King Obama and his loyal Imperial Court has changed through his executive orders immigration laws.

    The pledge of building a giant wall has opened the eyes of the 92 million American seeking work; or required full time jobs. The wall can be easily being constructed with remuneration of Mexican funding, otherwise under Trump there will be giant consequences. Trump will induce extra tariffs from our Southern neighbor; not only products arriving across the border, but further penalties as punishment from not enforcing the demarcation line between THEM and US?

    It’s over a year before the presidential election, but is aware that your vote will count; I suspect towards a new beginning with Donald Trump or more of the same almost impenetrable execution of worthless bills perpetrated by the Hilary’s or god help us the extreme Socialist ideology of Bernie Sanders. Both Madam Clinton and Sanders will certainly be on a spending spree of other people’s money; then new layers of taxes to pay for it all.

    Fortunately Trump is primarily going after the illegal alien invaders, but additionally after Corporate Welfare. Trump will take away the incentives for companies who move overseas by lowering the corporate tax rates to 15 percent. As a further deterrent Trump will place tariffs on goods from foreign nations that are imported into America free of any taxes, and which do not play by the free trade rules–such as China, Japan and of course Mexico. Until every country that is fully in compliance with the US, in an environment in which all businesses in a given market must follow the same rules and are given an equivalent ability to compete, which is not happening now. This means renegotiation’s that will be handled with hard nose delegates who will not be treated as an abject fool, as the previous delegates assigned. Something like 2.5 Trillion dollars will be flowing back from countries, with thousands of jobs returning. Of course there will be profits to be made, but to a lesser degree by greedy mega corporate.


    There will be a rebound in jobs and the only President can supply it is Donald Trump. He will also reignite the size of our military that foreign nations will be advised not to defy. Veterans will be treated with great respect and will never have to beg for treatment again. Trumps plan will end any poorly delivered medical treatment and the corruption will never ever again be seen or the humiliation on our sick and incapacitated soldiers.

    Read these disturbing stories of the Obama Administration using their power to stop the legal process of removing illegal alien. Judicial Watch, is an attorney group that brings to light corruption in Washington and at the state level. Americans should be aware of the facts and not the lies from the Liberal leaning media or the pro-illegal immigration organizations.

    Two disturbing cases highlight the serious problems with the nation’s immigration laws under the Obama administration; In one, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) accused a local police department of racial profiling for arresting two previously deported illegal immigrants and turning them over to federal authorities for removal. In the other, the Department of Justice (DOJ) charged a public school district with discrimination for verifying the immigration status of its employees. Read the corruption files and understand the secret goings on behind the public’s back.

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