John Gregg: New Poll to Ponder

Friday, April 17, 2015
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker must have liked what he saw in a New Hampshire primary poll released this week.

Walker had a surprising 24 percent support from likely Republican primary voters who said he was their top choice in the poll by North Carolina-based Public Policy Polling.

That far outpaced Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who had 14 percent support; Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., with 12 percent; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, 10 percent; 8 percent apiece for Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J.; 7 percent for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and physician Ben Carson; and 4 percent for former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Walker “is easily the best liked of the potential GOP contenders,” wrote Public Policy Polling director Tom Jensen. “Walker’s strength lies in his ability to appeal to the different ideological factions within the Republican electorate.”

Bush, on the other hand, “continues to face some early skepticism from conservative voters,” Jensen wrote. And among voters who self-identified as “very conservative,” only 6 percent picked Bush as their first choice for GOP nominee.

Despite lingering effects of the “Bridgegate” scandal involving some of his aides, Christie could climb back. The New Jersey governor has been campaigning hard this week in New Hampshire, including appearances scheduled today in Manchester and Nashua and a town hall forum in Exeter.

Among Democrats, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton polled at 45 percent, compared with 23 percent for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has repeatedly said she won’t run for president this cycle. There was some good news for Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is mulling a presidential run. He popped into double-digits among likely Democratic voters in New Hampshire, with 12 percent support. Vice President Joe Biden, who appears likely to run only if Clinton falters badly, polled at 7 percent, with former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley at 3 percent and 1 percent each for former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb.

The polling took place from April 9 to 13, much of it before Clinton formally announced her presidential run, and included 358 Republican primary voters and 329 Democratic primary voters. Its margin of error was 5.2 percentage points for the GOP sample, and 5.4 percent for Democrats.

Coming to a Venue Soon?

Most Republican presidential candidates have stuck close to the southern tier — where the most conservative voters, and TV cameras, are to be found. But former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who may be considering a GOP run, will be in Grafton County tonight. She’s the prime attraction at the Pemi-Baker Valley Republican Committee’s spaghetti dinner at 5 p.m. at the Ashland, N.H., American Legion.

Among possible Democratic contenders, Sanders, the Vermont senator, will speak at a house party in Hanover on Saturday.

And, fresh from her Iowa tour, Clinton is expected to campaign in New Hampshire on Monday and Tuesday, though exact locations have yet to be publicly announced.

Her long-anticipated announcement galvanized state Sen. David Pierce, D-Lebanon, a longtime supporter, to dig out a “New Hampshire for Hillary” campaign sign from the 2008 campaign and put it outside his home on Bank Street Extension.

“I think that her approach this time is that she is rolling out small, and she is going to be talking to voters one-on-one, and what I really like is she is going around asking for support, and acknowledging that they need to earn the votes and endorsements, rather than presuming they are there,” Pierce said.

School Politics

Only a handful of Vermont House members from the Upper Valley voted to ban teacher strikes in a pivotal vote earlier this month, where the effort failed, 73-70. They included state Reps. Sarah Buxton, D-Tunbridge; Kevin Christie, D-Hartford; Chip Conquest, D-Wells River; Rodney Graham, R-Williamstown; Mark Huntley, D-Cavendish; and Job Tate, R-Mendon.

Longtime Royalton School Board member Geo Honigford singled out Buxton for her “courage” in the vote, which was opposed by the teachers’ union.

“She made a hell of a speech from the floor of the House in support of an amendment to a bill that would have prevented teacher strikes in Vermont and brought parity to the negotiation process between boards and (the teachers’) union,” Honigford wrote in an email to a number of Royalton residents.

“What was even more amazing is that she took this stand even though her party’s leadership was giving her a lot of pressure to ‘take a vacation’ during this debate. I personally feel comforted that we have a representative that puts what is right above her political career.”

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