Taking an early look at the key presidential caucus and primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, a Republican front-runner fails to emerge. In Iowa, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker vie for the top spot among the state’s potential Republican electorate.
In New Hampshire, Bush, Walker, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie each receives double-digit support. Turning to South Carolina, the state’s favorite son, Senator Lindsey Graham, battles Bush, Walker, Huckabee, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson for the lead.
The picture is much clearer on the Democratic side. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the odds-on favorite for her party’s nomination. Clinton outpaces her closest Democratic competitors by very wide margins in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.
However, in hypothetical general election matchups, despite edging her GOP rivals in Iowa and New Hampshire, Clinton falls short of 50% in each of the three states polled. In South Carolina, when paired against Bush or Walker, Clinton garners about what President Obama received in 2012 against Mitt Romney.
“Top tier? The morning line for these critical states points to a rough and tumble Republican nomination battle. Seven of the 11 potential GOP candidates has double-digit support in, at least, one of the states, but no one breaks 20% anywhere,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “Not so for the Democrats where Hillary Clinton has a commanding lead.”
Republicans and Democrats Satisfied with Candidates
- 65% of the Iowa potential Republican electorate are satisfied with the choice of candidates they have for the nomination. 25% are dissatisfied. On the Democratic side, 60% of the Iowa potential Democratic electorate are pleased with their party’s candidates for the nomination, and 27% are dissatisfied.
- 59% of the New Hampshire potential Republican electorate are satisfied with their candidate options while 28% would prefer to see someone else emerge. Looking at the Democratic side, 61% of the New Hampshire potential Democratic electorate are happy with their choices for the nomination. 27% are not.
- 64% of the South Carolina potential Republican electorate are pleased with their primary options while 25% are displeased. 72% of the South Carolina potential Democratic electorate are satisfied with their party’s primary candidates. 18% are not.
- 55% of South Carolina residents do not think Senator Lindsey Graham should run for president in 2016. 36% think he should toss his hat into the ring. The potential Republican electorate in the state mirrors the opinions of residents.
Clinton Ahead in Iowa and New Hampshire, Not in South Carolina
- Among registered voters in Iowa, Clinton, 48%, is ahead of Bush, 40%. Clinton, 49%, also outpaces Walker, 38%, statewide.
- In New Hampshire, Clinton, 48%, edges Bush, 42%. Against Walker, Clinton has 49% to 42% for Walker.
- Bush, receives 48%, and Clinton, 45%, in South Carolina. Clinton garners 46%, and Walker receives 46% when matched in the state.
Voters on the Issues
In Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, more than six in ten voters in each state find a candidate who favors raising taxes on the wealthy to be acceptable. This is especially true in Iowa, where 73% of voters have this view. Majorities of voters in all three states also find a candidate who supports repealing the federal health care law, who backs immigration reform, or who promotes action to combat climate change to be preferable. A candidate who supports Common Core education or favors increased military action against ISIS is also deemed satisfactory to majorities of voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.
However, registered voters are less likely to find a candidate who opposes same-sex marriage to be acceptable.
On many of these questions, there is a notable divide between the potential Republican and Democratic electorates.
Residents in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina consider job creation to be the most important issue in the 2016 election. Jobs and the economy is also the most pressing concern for the potential Democratic and Republican electorates with the exception of Iowa where the deficit and government spending is the top priority for the potential Republican electorate for 2016.
- 30% of adults in Iowa consider job creation and economic growth to be the most important issue in the 2016 presidential election. Deficit and government spending, 21%, military action against ISIS, 17%, and health care, 15%, follow. 11% cite income equality while looking out for the interests of women is the priority for 3% of Iowa residents.
- Among Iowa’s potential Republican electorate, the deficit and government spending, 32%, tops the list followed by military action against ISIS, 25%, and jobs, 23%. The potential Democratic electorate prioritizes jobs, 32%, followed by health care, 20%, and income equality, 19%.
- There is little consensus about Iowans’ second most pressing issue. Similar proportions of adults mention job creation, 24%, health care, 22%, and the deficit and government spending, 20%. 15% put military action against ISIS at the top of their list while 12% cite income equality. Six percent select looking out for the interests of women.
- Job creation and economic growth, 33%, is the most important issue to New Hampshire adults. The deficit and government spending, 19%, health care, 18%, and military action against ISIS, 14% follow. 11% place income equality at the top of their priority list while only 2% think looking out for the interests of women to be the most important issue in the upcoming election.
- When looking at New Hampshire’s potential Republican electorate, jobs, 33%, rank number one. The deficit and government spending with 28% and military action against ISIS at 20% follow. Among the potential Democratic electorate, jobs, 34%, is tops followed by health care and income equality, each at 21%.
- When it comes to the second choice issue for New Hampshire adults, job creation and economic growth, 22%, and health care, 22%, top the list. Military action against ISIS, 20%, and the deficit and government spending, 18%, are close behind. Income equality, 9%, and looking out for the interests of women, 7%, round out the list.
- 32% of South Carolina adults think the key issue in the 2016 election is job creation and economic growth. Health care, 20%, military action against ISIS, 18%, and the deficit and government spending, 15%, also rate highly. Eight percent believe income equality is the most crucial topic of discussion while women’s interests receive 3%.
- South Carolina’s potential Republican electorate points to jobs, 29%, as the top priority for 2016. The issues of military action against ISIS with 28% and the deficit and government spending at 24% are also seen as important. For South Carolina’s potential Democratic electorate, jobs, 35%, is crucial followed by health care, 28%, and income equality, 15%.
- Looking at the second most important issue for South Carolina adults, 25% choose job creation and economic growth. 23% select health care and 22% pick the deficit and government spending. 14% mention military action against ISIS, and 8% cite income equality. Seven percent think looking out for the interests of women should be the priority.
U.S. Senate Race in New Hampshire Competitive
Looking at the 2016 election for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire, Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan and incumbent Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte are closely matched.
- 48% of New Hampshire registered voters support Hassan in the race for U.S. Senate while Ayotte garners 44%. Seven percent are undecided.
Approval Rating Roundup
In Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, President Barack Obama’s job performance rating is upside down. The governors in each state are rated highly.
- 49% of Iowans disapprove of how President Obama is doing his job while 43% approve.
- 50% of New Hampshire residents disapprove of President Obama’s job performance. 43% approve.
- 51% of South Carolinians disapprove of how Mr. Obama is performing in office. 44% approve.
- More than six in ten Iowa residents, 64%, approve of the job Governor Terry Branstad is doing in office. 28% disapprove.
- In New Hampshire, 68% of residents approve of how Governor Maggie Hassan is doing her job. 23% disapprove.
- In South Carolina, 61% of residents approve of the job performance of Governor Nikki Haley. 32% disapprove.