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Suffolk University poll: Donald Trump holds solid lead among Republicans in New Hampshire

2016It’s still three months until the New Hampshire primary, but the chill in the air suggests that the Summer of Trump is morphing into something else.

A new Suffolk University poll out Monday has Donald Trump at 22 percent in New Hampshire’s February primary, comfortably ahead of Marco Rubio (11 percent) and Ben Carson (10 percent) at the top of the Republican polls.

Ted Cruz and John Kasich are at 9 percent, with Jeb Bush further back at 8 percent.

“Donald Trump’s loyal 22 percent goes a long way in New Hampshire,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “As long as the remaining 78 percent is split relatively evenly among the six or seven major contenders, we’re getting close to ‘Trump-mate’ in the Granite State.”

Rubio is emerging as the second choice after a strong performance in the most recent TV debate on Fox Business Network. His approval rating in New Hampshire is at a solid 64 percent, and he is the second choice of 17 percent of New Hampshire voters, topping the field.

“The Rubio thread runs deep throughout the poll. If you look at who is in the top three when it comes to favorability, first choice, second choice, trust, or best chance of winning in the general election, Rubio is the only candidate who meets all of those tests,” said Paleologos.