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Jeb Bush struggling with self-described ‘very conservative voters’ in new survey

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A new candidate has emerged in the battle between Jeb Bush & Scott Walker for national supremacy among GOP 2016 presidential hopefuls in a new poll.

It’s Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.

Cruz became the first “official” entrant into the presidential sweepstakes last week, and a new national survey of Republican voters by Public Policy Polling shows him jumping up to 16 percent, good for third place in the rankings.

Walker remains at the top with 20 percent, a reduction of 5 percentage points from a similar poll taken a month ago.

Bush is second with 17 percent support, followed by Cruz at 16 percent, Ben Carson and Rand Paul at 10 percent, Marco Rubio and Mike Huckabee at 6 percent, Chris Christie at 4 percent, and Rick Perry at 3 percent.

Among voters considering themselves “very conservative,” Cruz is now the man. He leads the GOP field with 33 percent of those voters, compared to 25 percent going for Walker and 12 percent for Dr. Carson. No other Republican makes it into the double-digits. PPP says Walker has been hurt the most by Cruz’s entry into the race, which he made in a highly publicized speech at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., on March 23.

“This contest is starting to bear some resemblance to the 2012 Republican nomination fight,” said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling. “A couple of months ago Ben Carson was the hot thing in the field, now Ted Cruz is and Carson’s support is drying up. It’s very reminiscent of the boom and bust we saw with various candidates four years ago. And Jeb Bush remaining steady as others rise and fall is also similar to how things went for Mitt Romney that cycle.”

Other losers in the poll include Chris Christie, who appears dead in the water in this poll. Fifty-seven percent of those Republican voters surveyed look at him unfavorably, while only 24 percent show support.

But Jeb Bush is struggling with these voters as well. He’s looked at favorably by 39 percent of voters, but unfavorably by 37 percent. Only 27 percent of “very conservative” GOP voters have a favorable opinion of him and 55 percent have a negative one. And just 4 percent of voters within that group say they support him for the nomination.

Marco Rubio, conversely, has a 55-22 percent favorable/unfavorable ranking.

The survey consisted of talking with 443 Republican primary voters between March 26-31.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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