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Latest poll shows Cruz, Christie making big gains in NH

Trump may be leading in New Hampshire, but that's not what makes the latest polling interesting.
Republican presidential candidates take the stage for the first Republican presidential debate at the Quicken Loans Arena, Aug. 6, 2015, in Cleveland. (Photo by Andrew Harnik/AP)
Republican presidential candidates from left, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Scott Walker, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and John Kasich take the stage for the first Republican presidential debate at the Quicken Loans Arena, Aug. 6, 2015, in Cleveland.
At a certain level, practically all polling out of New Hampshire has found the same thing for months: Donald Trump is leading. In fact, we have to go back to June to find a Granite State poll in which the New York developer wasn't ahead in a statewide survey.
With that in mind, the new results from Public Policy Polling probably won't surprise those who only look at the frontrunner, but the poll is nevertheless very interesting in every other way.
1. Donald Trump: 27% (was 28% in a PPP poll six weeks ago)
2. Ted Cruz: 13% (8% last month)
3. Marco Rubio: 11% (12% last month)
4. Chris Christie: 10% (3% last month)
5. Ben Carson: 9% (11% last month)
6. John Kasich: 8% (10% last month)
7. Carly Fiorina: 6% (7% last month)
8. Jeb Bush: 5% (9% last month)
All other candidates are below 5%.
A couple of things should stand out right away. Ted Cruz, for example, has reason to be optimistic about his chances: despite all the media hype surrounding Marco Rubio, it's the Texan who's fairly well positioned as the #2 candidate in both Iowa and New Hampshire. Note, in October, PPP had Cruz in sixth place.
And then there's the Union-Leader-endorsed Chris Christie, who's been counting on a strong showing in the Granite State, and whose support has quickly tripled, finally reaching double digits. Just as importantly, PPP found that the New Jersey governor now has the best favorability rating of any Republican presidential candidate.
The question is whether Christie can maintain, and perhaps build on, this sudden increase in support. Remember, in recent months other GOP candidates have also surged into double digits -- Kasich and Fiorina, for example -- only to see their support fade soon after. Bush, meanwhile, has slipped from the top tier to eighth place in PPP New Hampshire polling since the summer.
If Christie is going to be at all competitive, a fourth place showing in this primary almost certainly won't cut it.
As for the frontrunner, PPP took a closer at Trump's "almost cult like" following.

* 58% of Trump voters think thousands of Arabs in New Jersey celebrated the attacks of 9/11 to only 12% who don't think that happened. This is despite only 30% of Republican voters overall believing that to 39% who don't. * 53% of Trump supporters are in favor of a national database of Muslims, to only 22% opposed to that concept. This is despite only 29% of Republicans overall supporting the idea to 44% who are against it. [...] * 49% of Trump supporters want to shut down the mosques in the United States, to only 18% against that idea. Overall only 25% of Republicans support doing that to 44% who oppose it.

I realize this is supposed to paint an outrageous portrait of Trump backers -- and it absolutely does -- but it's not at all reassuring that one-in-four New Hampshire Republicans want to shut down mosques, while nearly one-in-three New Hampshire Republicans believe Trump's 9/11 nonsense and support a national Muslim database.