New Hampshire's Republican presidential primary has a reputation as an oasis in the desert for moderate candidates. A new poll underlines exactly why.
While social conservatives dominate other early states in the GOP nominating process, New Hampshire Republicans are divided or even slightly left-leaning on two major social issues, according to the latest survey from Suffolk University.
A slight plurality of the state's 2016 GOP primary voters, 49 percent, describe themselves as "pro-choice" on the issue of abortion, while 41 percent called themselves "pro-life." On a national level, pro-life Republicans control their party by big margins (69 percent to 27 percent, Gallup found last year). But the New Hampshire voters who will help pick the party's nominee are further left.
Those voters are the ones who give candidates who are more moderate or less focused on social issues—such as Jeb Bush—a chance to build some momentum in one early primary. Bush led the poll with 19 percent support. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was in second with 14 percent. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz languished with 5 percent.
The same is true on the issue of same-sex marriage. Asked whether they favored legalizing same-sex marriage, 43 percent of the New Hampshire respondents said yes while 39 percent said no. Last year, just 30 percent of Republicans supported gay marriage in another Gallup poll.