A surprising poll released Tuesday shows Ohio Gov. John Kasich has jumped to 20 percent in the New Hampshire Republican primary race, putting him not far behind Donald Trump, who remains the leader with 27 percent. While Kasich's all-out focus on the first primary state is not new, this poll puts him nearly seven points above his average there.
Now, before Kasich supporters get too excited, the survey was conducted by American Research Group, which has a lackluster C- grade on FiveThirtyEight’s pollster ratings. Those ratings are calculated by “analyzing the historical accuracy of each firm’s polls along with its methodology,” according to the data and politics news site.
Still, ARG conducted 600 telephone interviews Friday through Monday with likely Republican primary voters for its New Hampshire survey, a practice that puts it in line with other serious pollsters.
After Kasich, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was far back in third place with 10 percent support, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz each received 9 percent support and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush had 8 percent. Just behind Bush, 7 percent of respondents said they were still undecided about which candidate was their top choice. The primary is Feb. 9.
If you take into account the survey’s 4 percent margin of error, Trump and Kasich are neck-and-neck in the poll. This is a significant turnaround for the Ohio governor, who has been struggling to gain attention since he launched his campaign, and has not risen much in national polls despite fairly strong debate performances.
Kasich sits at an average of 13.3 percent in New Hampshire, according to the Real Clear Politics average of polls, but remains at 2.3 percent nationally. These numbers make the ARG poll an extreme outlier. Even with it included in the Real Clear Politics average, Trump leads the field by 18 points — quite a different picture than the seven points in the ARG poll.
Republican primary voters in New Hampshire are typically considered more moderate than those in Iowa, so many of the moderates in the 2016 field have been hoping to eke out a moral victory by coming in at a close second to the persistent front-runner Trump. As the first-in-the-nation primary election, New Hampshire is also the place where many political analysts expect some GOP candidates to end their run. If some of the bottom-tier candidates do not pick up momentum by New Hampshire, it will be difficult for them to hold into their remaining supporters and donors.
What-the-wha? NH poll, ARG Trump 27 Kasich 20 Rubio 10 Cruz 9 Christie 9 Bush 8 https://t.co/Gt1P6PPEME
— Bill Scher (@billscher) January 19, 2016
Kasich has spent a significant number of days in the Granite State this month, and he recently told reporters he was feeling good about his chances.
“I'm very optimistic about this, and here's what's going to happen. If I do well in this state, now when I talk, people are going to hear me. Because up till now, if I'm not yelling at somebody, then I don't get ... nobody knows who I am in America,” Kasich told WMUR-TV of Manchester Monday.