Although some pundits say that Jeb Bush is the front-runner for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, a trio of new NBC News/Marist polls show in fact that the field is wide open in the early nominating states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
However, the only two candidates with poll numbers in the double digits are Bush and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
In Iowa, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee leads the field with 17 percent of potential caucus-goers, not a surprise considering that Huckabee won that contest in 2008. What is a wee bit surprising is that Bush is right behind at 16 percent, even though he hasn’t made an appearance there in years. Right behind Bush is Walker at 15 percent. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is next at 9 percent, and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is at 7 percent.
In New Hampshire, Bush leads with 18 percent support, Walker is next at 15 percent, Rand Paul has 14 percent and Christie has 13 percent.
And in South Carolina, Senator Lindsey Graham is flirting with a run for the White House, and he leads the NBC News survey there with 17 percent support in his home state. Bush is right behind at 15 percent. Walker is at 12 percent, and Huckabee and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson are tied at 10 percent.
On the Democratic Party side, there isn’t much of a contest, as Hillary Clinton is dominating the field. She leads Joe Biden 68%-12% in Iowa. In New Hampshire she’s up 69%-13% over Bernie Sanders. And in South Carolina, Clinton leads Biden 65%-20%.
In the general election matchup, Clinton leads Bush by eight points in Iowa, 48%-40%, and by 11 points over Walker, 49%-38%.
In New Hampshire, Clinton leads Bush 48-42, and leads Walker 49%-42%.
And in South Carolina, Bush leads Clinton, 48%-45%. Clinton and Walker are tied at 46%.
The NBC/Marist of Iowa was conducted Feb. 3-10 of 891 registered voters (margin of error of plus-minus 3.3 percentage points), 320 potential GOP caucus-goers (plus-minus 5.5 percentage points) and 321 potential Democratic caucus-goers (plus-minus 5.5 percentage points).
The NBC/Marist poll of New Hampshire was conducted Feb. 3-10 of 887 registered voters (margin of error of plus-minus 3.3 percentage points), 381 potential GOP primary voters (plus-minus 5.0 percentage points) and 309 potential Democratic primary voters (plus-minus 5.6 percentage points).
The NBC/Marist poll of South Carolina was conducted Feb. 3-10 of 877 registered voters (plus-minus 3.3 percentage points), 450 potential GOP primary voters (plus-minus4 4.6 percentage points) and 352 potential Democratic primary voters (plus-minus 5.2 percentage points).