Poll: Bush popular in GOP; Rubio, Walker have most room to grow

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By Eric Bradner

CNN

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Jeb Bush has the most support among Republicans, but several other 2016 contenders have room to grow in the eyes of primary voters, according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll.

Asked whether they’d consider voting for him for the Republican nomination, 51% of those surveyed said yes, while 27% said no.

The results are good news for Bush, who’s expected to lead the field in fundraising and establishment support but is facing accusations from conservatives that his support for immigration reform and the Common Core education curriculum call his credentials into question.

Earning the second-highest level of consideration was Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor who won the 2008 Iowa caucuses, with 42% saying they might back him and 25% saying they wouldn’t. Tied for third was Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, with 39% support and 23% opposition.

Several other candidates showed they have room to improve, with relatively low levels of opposition.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio matched Paul’s 39% support, but had much lower opposition, with just 14% of Republicans saying they wouldn’t consider backing him.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s opposition was even lower, at 8%, while 35% said they might support him.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the firebrand freshman and first officially declared 2016 presidential candidate, could be supported by 37% of those polled, while 22% said they wouldn’t back him. Fellow Texan Rick Perry, the former governor, could be backed by 30% but is opposed by 26%.

The strongest level of opposition was to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, with 42% saying they wouldn’t consider supporting him while just 27% said they would.

This poll surveyed 1,023 adults nationwide by telephone from March 21-24 and has an overall margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. The margin of error for Republicans and Democrats is plus or minus 6 percentage points.

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