Dems Lead Presidential Race in NH; Senate Race Still Up for Grabs

| Tom Jensen

PPP’s newest New Hampshire poll finds both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders leading the Republican field in the state, although Sanders does an average of 9 points better than Clinton in the general election match ups.

The Republican who comes closest to Clinton is Marco Rubio, who trails by 3 points at 45/42. The rest of the Republican hopefuls lose by wider margins than Mitt Romney did in the state in 2012- Jeb Bush trails by 6 at 46/40, Ted Cruz is down 8 at 48/40, Ben Carson has an 11 point deficit at 50/39, and Donald Trump does the worst with a 14 point gap at 50/36.

Sanders is the only candidate with a positive favorability rating among the overall electorate in the state, and it’s a very positive rating- 55% of voters see him positively to only 35% who have a negative opinion. He leads the entire GOP field by double digits- it’s 12 points over Bush at 50/38, 14 points over Rubio at 51/37, 19 over Carson at 53/34, and 20 points over both Trump and Cruz at 54/34 and 55/35 respectively.

The New Hampshire Senate race remains a toss up. Kelly Ayotte gets 44% to 42% for Maggie Hassan. Every poll PPP has done of this race in the last year has found the candidates within 2 points of each other. Hassan continues to be more popular with a 48/39 approval rating to Ayotte’s 41/43 approval spread. The reason Hassan’s numbers are so much better is that she has a 79% approval rating with Democrats to Ayotte’s 66% approval with Republicans- but when it comes to the head to head Ayotte’s 83% of the Republican vote is basically the same as Hassan’s 82% of the Democratic vote. So while Ayotte faces more dissension within her own party than Hassan does in hers, they get to the same level of support when it comes to the general. Ayotte owes her slight overall edge to a 40/36 advantage with independents.

The Governor’s race is very tight as well, with 42% of voters saying they’d pick a Democrat and 42% saying they’d pick a Republican if the election was today. Chris Sununu has modest leads over both Mark Connolly (38/36) and Colin Van Ostern (39/35), but those are largely a function of his having 65% name recognition compared to just 25% for Van Ostern and 17% for Connolly. The Democrats both lead Frank Edelbut- Connolly by a 31/24 spread, Van Ostern by a 30/25 one- perhaps a function of Edelblut’s being even less well known than they are. 

Other notes from New Hampshire:

-Granite State voters are overwhelmingly in favor of the potential gun measures that have received the most attention lately. There is 83% support and 11% opposition to both requiring a criminal background check on all gun purchases, and to barring people on the terrorist watch list from purchasing a firearm. The measures have broad bipartisan support with 94-96% of Democrats, 80-82% of independents, and 72-73% of Republicans backing each of them.

-New Hampshire provides another strong example of the extent to which the politics on Obamacare has shifted in political battlegrounds. 47% of voters in the state now say they support the Affordable Care Act to only 40% who are opposed to it. One key change we’re finding over and over is that Democrats (85%) are far more united in their support of the ACA than Republicans (70%) are in their opposition to it. That used to be the other way around.

-The new year brings a continued mandate for a significant increase in the minimum wage. 70% of voters think it should be increased to at least $10 an hour to just 14% who think the status quo is fine and another 14% who would like to eliminate the minimum wage altogether. 95% of Democrats, 68% of independents, and 48% of Republicans want an increase to at least $10 an hour. On another topic, 66% of New Hampshire voters support the EPA’s Clean Power Plan to only 28% who are opposed.

-We also asked about a couple sports issues. There’s no need for any of the Presidential candidates to pander in relation to the College Football Championship game on Monday night- 63% of voters in the state say they don’t care one way or another who wins the game and among those who do have a preference there’s pretty even division with 20% going for Clemson and 17% for Alabama. Voters say that out of New England’s professional sports teams the Patriots are by far and away the one they care about the most- 42% say it’s the Pats to 24% for the Red Sox, 9% for the Bruins, and 6% for the Celtics.

Full results here


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