In the 2016 race for the White House, businessman Donald Trump leads his Republican rivals in the early caucus and primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire.
Trump has improved his standing among potential Republican voters in both crucial GOP contests. In Iowa, Trump, 29%, leads the crowded GOP field, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, 22%, assumes second place. Dr. Carson is the favorite “second choice” among potential GOP voters. Trump, 28%, also takes the top spot in New Hampshire where he outpaces Ohio Governor John Kasich, 12%, and Dr. Carson, 11%, by double digits among the state’s potential Republican electorate. Carson is also the preferred “second choice” in New Hampshire.
However, the picture is bleaker for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Walker, who topped the Iowa leaderboard in the July NBC News/Marist Poll with 19%, now receives only single-digit support, 5%, as does Bush, 6%, who placed third in that previous survey with 12%. In New Hampshire, support for Bush and Walker has also fallen among the potential GOP electorate.
On the Democratic side, the race for the presidential nomination has undergone a major upheaval. While former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leads Sanders by 11 points, 48% to 37%, among the potential Democratic electorate in Iowa, Clinton’s lead has narrowed from 29 points in July. The tables have turned for Clinton in New Hampshire where Sanders has surpassed her, 49% to 38%. Clinton previously had a 13 point lead over Sanders.
What would happen if Vice President Joe Biden decides to enter the race? Clinton and Sanders maintain their respective leads in Iowa and New Hampshire, and Biden places third. However, in Iowa, Biden has doubled his support, 20% from 10%, since the previous NBC News/Marist Poll in the state. His support is also up to 16% from 12% in New Hampshire.
And, looking at the general election, Clinton now loses to Bush in both states, trails Trump in Iowa, and runs evenly with him in New Hampshire. In contrast, Vice President Joe Biden is more competitive against Bush and leads Trump in both states.
“There’s been a massive shakeup in both parties, in both states,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “It’s been a summer of surprises with Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders sitting in the front car of the rollercoaster.”
- Trump is outpacing his competitors for the Republican nomination across the board. He runs best among Tea Party identifiers, independents, voters without a college education, and men.
- Carson has made major inroads in Iowa. He has catapulted to second place and runs competitively with Trump among white evangelical Christians and conservative voters. He leads Trump in Iowa, 27% to 22%, among college educated voters. In New Hampshire, Carson and Kasich have nearly doubled their support from the previous July survey.
- Bush and Walker have seen their support in each state fade. Bush is down to single digits, overall, and among most key groups in each state. Walker’s support has collapsed in both states. In Iowa, his support dropped from 19% in July to 5% now, and from 12% to 4% in New Hampshire.
- Clinton now trails Sanders in New Hampshire, 38% to 49%. Although Clinton still carries Democrats and women by 7 points, Sanders leads by 36 points among independents, 32 points among men and people under 45, and 15 points among liberals. In Iowa, Clinton’s lead has narrowed from 29 points in July to 11 points currently. Although the slippage has been modest among Democrats, her support among independents and moderates has plummeted.
- Among women, while Clinton outpaced Sanders by 25 points in New Hampshire in July, she now only has a 7 point edge. Her lead among women voters in Iowa has narrowed from 47 points to 23.
Trump and Sanders Receive Boost in Favorable Ratings
Majorities of potential Republican voters in Iowa and New Hampshire have a positive impression of Trump, a dramatic shift from July. While potential GOP voters also perceive Bush and Walker positively, Bush’s negatives are up in New Hampshire, and Walker’s negatives are on the rise in Iowa.
Looking at the Democratic candidates vying for their party’s nomination, they are viewed positively by the potential Democratic electorates in Iowa and New Hampshire. However, Sanders’ positive ratings have improved. And, while Clinton is still well-received in Iowa, she has experienced a decline in her favorable rating.
“It’s less the case that Clinton, Bush, and Walker’s negative ratings have skyrocketed than Sanders and Trump have struck a chord with voters,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “As a result, they score much better on the ballot question.”
- In Iowa, 58% of the Iowa potential Republican electorate has a favorable view of Trump. In July, potential GOP voters were divided in their opinion of him, 45% positive and 44% negative. In New Hampshire, impressions of Trump have gone from upside down in July, 39% positive and 53% negative, to 56% favorable and 39% unfavorable among potential GOP voters.
- Although Walker’s support on the ballot question has considerably declined, a majority of potential Republican voters in Iowa, 52%, still have a positive opinion of him. His negative score though has inched up to 17% from 10% in the state. Voters’ impressions of him are little changed in New Hampshire.
- Bush has also seen only a modest change in how voters view him. 49% of potential Republican voters in both Iowa and New Hampshire now have a favorable opinion of him. This compares with 51% in Iowa and 56% in New Hampshire just two months ago.
- On the Democratic side, Biden is favorably viewed by 74% of potential Democratic voters in Iowa. This compares with 67% who have this impression of Clinton, and 65% who share this view of Sanders. Clinton’s positive score has declined from 74% while Sanders favorable rating has increased from 54%.
- Sanders, 79%, up from 65% in July, receives the highest favorable rating among the potential Democratic electorate in New Hampshire. Biden, 76%, and Clinton, 69%, are also viewed positively in the Granite State.
Biden Runs Better than Clinton against GOP Rivals in Potential General Election Tosses
When paired against Bush or Trump in hypothetical general election matchups, Biden is more competitive against the Republicans than is Clinton.
- When matched against Hillary Clinton, Bush leads Clinton among registered voters in, both, Iowa and New Hampshire. In Iowa, Bush, 50%, leads Clinton, 39%, by 11 points. He edges Clinton, 48% to 43%, in New Hampshire.
- In Iowa, Trump, 48%, is ahead of Clinton, 43%, by 5 points among the statewide electorate. However, the two are competitive, 46% for Clinton and 45% for Trump, among registered voters in New Hampshire.
- Biden is more competitive than Clinton against Bush in Iowa and New Hampshire. Bush receives 46% to 44% for Biden among Iowa registered voters. In New Hampshire, Bush has 46% to 45% for Biden.
- Against Trump, Biden is ahead in both states. Among Iowa’s registered voters, Biden has the support of 49% to 45% for Trump. In New Hampshire, Biden garners 50% to 41% for Trump.
On the Issues
The potential Democratic and Republican electorates in Iowa and New Hampshire express opposite views on how a candidate’s position on certain issues may impact their vote.
- When it comes to amending the U.S. Constitution to change birthright so children of undocumented immigrants are not automatically granted citizenship, pluralities of potential Republican voters in Iowa and New Hampshire would be more likely to back a candidate who supports such a position.
- Majorities of the potential GOP electorates in Iowa and New Hampshire would be less likely to support a candidate who favors a pathway to citizenship for undocumented or illegal immigrants. And, a plurality in Iowa and nearly half of those in New Hampshire would be less likely to support a candidate who is for Common Core education.
- At least a majority of the potential Democratic electorates in Iowa and New Hampshire would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. And, a majority of potential Democratic voters in Iowa and nearly half of those in New Hampshire would be more likely to support a candidate who favors Common Core education standards.
- The potential Democratic electorates in Iowa, 59%, and New Hampshire, 66%, would be less likely to back a candidate who supports amending the U.S. Constitution to change birthright so children of undocumented immigrants are not automatically granted citizenship.
U.S. Senate Race in New Hampshire Competitive
Incumbent Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte and Democratic challenger Maggie Hassan are in a close contest in the race for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire.
- Ayotte, 48%, and Hassan, 45%, are in a virtual dead heat among registered voters in New Hampshire. Hassan has gained ground on Ayotte. In July’s survey, Ayotte was ahead of Hassan, 50% to 42%.
Obama Approval Rating Upside Down in Iowa and New Hampshire
Majorities of adults in Iowa and New Hampshire disapprove of how President Barack Obama is doing his job in office. Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan receive high marks from residents in their respective states although Governor Hassan’s rating has declined since an earlier poll in July.
- 52% of Iowa adults disapprove of how President Obama is performing in office while 40% approve. The president’s job approval rating remains upside down in the state. In July, 49% thought Mr. Obama’s job performance was lacking while 43% thought well of how he was doing in office.
- In New Hampshire, 42% approve of the president’s job performance while 52% do not. The president received nearly identical scores in July.
- 54% of Iowa residents approve of how Governor Branstad is performing in office. 50% held this view earlier in the summer.
- 50% of adults in New Hampshire, down from 56% in July, approve of how Maggie Hassan is doing her job.