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Marco Rubio's long, hard fall in New Hampshire

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Byron York,Marco Rubio,Paul Ryan,New Hampshire,Polls,2014 Elections,Rand Paul,Ted Cruz

There's a new edition of the WMUR/University of New Hampshire Granite State poll of the nation's first primary state. There's no surprise in who is leading the Republican presidential pack: Sen. Rand Paul has led or been tied for the lead in four of the five Granite State polls since April of last year. This time, he's in front with 15 percent of likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters saying they support him.

A few candidates have experienced changes of fortune in the last year. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie led the poll in July of 2013 with 21 percent; now, after months of scandal accusations and bad headlines, he's in third place with 12 percent. New Hampshire home state favorite Sen. Kelly Ayotte -- who is not running, as far as anyone knows -- was at five percent in the poll last year; now she's tied for second at 13 percent.

But no candidate has experienced a change in fortune as dramatic as Sen. Marco Rubio. A year ago, he was at the top of the poll (tied with Rand Paul) with 15 percent of the vote. Today, he is in 10th place with two percent -- behind, in ascending order, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, Kelly Ayotte, and Rand Paul.

It's a huge fall. One year ago, Rubio was taking the leading role in crafting a comprehensive immigration reform bill, the Gang of Eight proposal, that would pass the Senate over two-to-one Republican opposition in June 2013. (Ayotte voted for the bill, while Paul and Cruz voted against it.) Since then, Rubio has paid dearly, in political terms. But it's still very early, months before even the 2014 midterms, and there is talk among Republican establishment types of re-considering Rubio, since many are now wary of Christie's chances and unsure of whether Bush will run. Nevertheless, the new Granite State survey shows Rubio will have a long way to go.

On the positive side of the ledger, the poll suggests Rubio is not disliked, which could mean good things for his prospects if other candidates falter or choose not to run. Asked for their second choice, 11 percent of respondents named Rubio, which ties him with Ayotte for second place, just behind Paul. And when asked which candidate they would not vote for under any circumstances, while 27 percent of those surveyed said Trump, 15 percent named Christie, and 7 percent said Bush, Rubio was far down the never-ever list, with just 1 percent saying they wouldn't ever vote for him.

Here are the new results: Rand Paul, 15 percent; Kelly Ayotte and Paul Ryan, 13 percent; Chris Christie, 12 percent; Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz, 7 percent; Donald Trump, 5 percent; Bobby Jindal and Scott Walker, 3 percent; Marco Rubio, 2 percent; Rick Perry and Rick Santorum, 1 percent. The category "Someone else" received 3 percent, and "Don't Know Yet" received 15 percent.

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Byron York

Chief Political Correspondent
The Washington Examiner