The latest on the presidential horse race.

Fox News Exit Poll Shows Mike Huckabee, Jeb Bush, Rick Perry Leading 2016 GOP Pack

While most of the polling last week focused on the midterms, Fox News conducted exit polls at the voting booths to get a sense of where “real” voters, i.e. those that actually vote as opposed to “likely voters,” stand on the 2016 presidential election. The results were somewhat surprising, especially given the media attention that likely candidates like Chris Christie and Rand Paul have received.

One thing to note is that national polling means very little once these candidates fall victim to the primary schedule. We all remember how well former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was doing in the national polls in 2008 only to see his campaign sputter after poor showings at the early primaries.

So let’s take a look at the early primary states and see what we can make of the data.

In Iowa, the first-in-the-nation caucus, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee leads the pack with 18 percent. That’s not much of a surprise since Huckabee has led most of the polling out of Iowa and Huckabee won the caucus in 2008 with 34 percent of the vote.

The race is very close, however, with outgoing Texas Governor Rick Perry surging to 17 percent, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush at 15 percent, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul at 14 percent, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie at 12.

In New Hampshire, the standings are more or less flipped. Bush leads the pack with 22 percent but Paul is right on his heels with 21 percent. Christie is at 15, Huckabee is at 10, and Perry is at just 4.

After New Hampshire we move to South Carolina, where Huckabee finds himself in the lead with 20 percent. Bush is second with 18 but Christie and Paul trail with 12 and Perry with 11.

So in the first three states, Huckabee appears to be very strong in two while Bush appears to have a shot at all three. Perry doesn’t figure to make much hay outside of Iowa, if that, and Christie doesn’t look likely to win any of the early contests.

While Iowa is rarely telling of who the eventual nominee will be, with Huckabee and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum winning the state in 2008 and 2012, respectively, the winner of the New Hampshire primary has gone on to win the nomination in the last three election cycles. That could mean good news for Jeb Bush though it’s hard to see a polarizing candidate like Paul use a possible New Hampshire win to gain momentum in a lot of northern and western states.