Donald Trump speaks at the Republican presidential candidate debate sponsored by ABC News and the Independent Journal Review at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., Feb. 6, 2016. 
Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty

Latest polls offer hints about nation’s first primary

The recent track record for Republican polling in the New Hampshire primary is quite good. In 2008, polling showed John McCain ahead by about 4 points and he won by about 5 points. In 2012, the survey data found Mitt Romney with a 20-point lead and he won by about 16 points.
And with one day remaining before the first-in-the-nation primary, where do things stand? The final New Hampshire poll from Monmouth University, conducted almost entirely before Saturday night’s debate, has the race shaping up this way.
1. Donald Trump: 30% (down from 32% a month ago)
2. John Kasich: 14% (unchanged)
3. Marco Rubio: 13% (up from 12%)
3. Jeb Bush: 13% (up from 4%)
5. Ted Cruz: 12% (down from 14%)
6. Chris Christie: 6% (down from 8%)
A Franklin Pierce University-Boston Herald poll conducted over the same period produced some different results:
1. Donald Trump: 31% (down from 38% in late-January)
2. Ted Cruz: 16% (up from 13%)
3. Marco Rubio: 15% (up from 10%)
4. John Kasich: 11% (up from 8%)
5. Jeb Bush: 10% (unchanged)
6. Chris Christie: 5% (unchanged)
A CNN/UNH/WMUR tracking poll, meanwhile, found a different set of results:
1. Donald Trump: 33% (up from 28% from earlier in the week)
2. Marco Rubio: 16% (down from 17%)
3. Ted Cruz: 14% (up from 13%)
4. John Kasich: 11% (down from 13%)
5. Jeb Bush: 7% (down from 9%)
6. Carly Fiorina: 6% (up from 5%)
7. Chris Christie: 4% (unchanged)
And finally, UMass Lowell has its own tracking poll, which has the race shaping up this way:
1. Donald Trump: 34% (unchanged from earlier in the week)
2. Ted Cruz: 13% (down from 14%)
2. Marco Rubio: 13% (down from 15%)
4. John Kasich: 10% (up from 8%)
4. Jeb Bush: 10% (up from 8%)
6. Chris Christie: 5% (unchanged)
6. Ben Carson: 5% (up from 4%)
Taken together, the picture looks … confusing. As was the case with some of last week’s polling, these findings show a fair amount of disagreement on whose support is increasing or decreasing, just as they disagree on the order of the candidates.
Trump’s odds of winning the primary appear strong – yes, I know polls pointed in a similar direction before the Iowa caucuses – and the race for second place appears to include four candidates who are separated by modest margins. A shift of just a few points as voters make up their minds could make the difference between finishing second and finishing fifth.
What’s more, not one of these polls was conducted entirely after Saturday night’s debate, which most observers agree was a very good night for Chris Christie, and a rather dreadful evening for Marco Rubio.
Watch this space.

New Hampshire and Polling

Latest polls offer hints about nation's first primary