January 29, 1996

Forbes Draws Even With Dole In New Hampshire

Report Summary

Political newcomer Steve Forbes has moved into a statistical tie with Bob Dole for top honors in the New Hampshire primary.  A Pew Research Center poll of 543 likely voters taken January 25-28 finds the millionaire publisher leading the Senator 29% to 24%, but the lead is within the poll’s margin of sampling error.  Well behind the two front runners are Lamar Alexander (11%), Pat Buchanan (11%), and Phil Gramm (10%), all in a statistical tie for third place.  All other candidates register less than 5% support.

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Dole continues to hold a lead, 31% to 24%, over Forbes among registered Republicans likely to vote in the New Hampshire primary. However, the New Jersey publisher holds a 2-to-1 lead over the Senate majority leader among Independents who plan to vote in the state’s GOP primary (34% vs. 17%). Forbes out-polls Dole among middle income and lower income groups, while Dole leads among more affluent voters. The poll also revealed a gender gap in which men divide their support evenly between Forbes and Dole (30% to 29%), but Forbes enjoys a 27% to 19% margin over Dole among women.

A Clinton Lead In New Hampshire

The Pew Research Center poll was taken at the end of a week in which Bob Dole was widely criticized for his post-State of the Union address, while challenger Forbes was featured on the covers of both Time and Newsweek magazines. Nonetheless, both Republicans trail Bill Clinton in the general election match-ups. The President leads Dole 52% to 36% and wins over Forbes by a thinner 48% to 41% margin in the traditionally Republican state.

Likely New Hampshire voters have a negative opinion about most of the GOP presidential candidates. Only Dole, Forbes and Alexander are rated favorably by majorities, as the table below shows.

Opinion of Likely Primary Voters

                      Favorable Unfavorable  Don't Know

Bob Dole                 56         41        3=100

Steve Forbes             59         32        9=100

Lamar Alexander          51         28        21=100

Phil Gramm               44         43        13=100

Pat Buchanan             41         53        6=100

Richard Lugar            24         33        43=100