A poll indicates Jeb Bush has a slight edge over other potential Republican presidential hopefuls in New Hampshire’s 2016 presidential primary election. But Bush is unpopular among likely general-election voters and a majority of likely GOP primary voters said his stance on illegal immigration in the United States was a “deal-killer,” according to the Bloomberg Politics/St. Anselm College poll.
The poll, which was released Sunday, found Bush is the most popular potential candidate among likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire, but the numbers aren't high. While 16 percent said they would vote for Bush, 13 percent would vote for Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, 12 percent for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and 10 percent for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Fourteen percent of likely GOP primary voters said they were unsure, according to the poll, which was conducted by Purple Insights of Washington, Jan. 31-Feb. 5.
Mitt Romney led a Bloomberg Politics/St. Anselm College poll in November by 19 percentage points, Bloomberg News reported. Romney announced his decision to forgo a third White House run during a conference call with supporters last month.
A majority of likely GOP primary voters said Bush would be a stronger candidate against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and would do a better job combating terrorism, compared to Paul, Walker and Christie. However, 41 percent also said Bush’s position in “allowing undocumented immigrants to stay in this country” was a “deal-killer,” according to the latest poll, which surveyed 400 Republican primary voters and 400 Democratic primary voters.
Bush's stance on immigration has put him at odds with the Republican conservative right. The former Florida governor told 300 longtime supporters at a luncheon in Tallahassee Tuesday the Republican Party should see immigration reform as a chance for economic growth, Reuters reported. "People, the best and brightest around the world, want to come here, so we should fix our immigration system," he reportedly said, nothing his support for securing U.S. borders. "We have a chance of having 600,000 first-round draft picks every year."
Although Bush has presented himself as a mainstream alternative to the GOP hardliners, the poll showed 50 percent of general-election voters have an unfavorable opinion of Bush, compared to 35 percent who view him favorably. Both Republican and Democratic voters said Bush’s potential candidacy is more based on his family connections to politics than his unique qualities and achievements, according to the poll, which has a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points. The former Florida governor is the second son of former President George H.W. Bush and brother of former President George W. Bush.