Hassan/Ayotte Knotted; Sanders Strongest in General

| Tom Jensen

PPP’s newest look at the US Senate race in New Hampshire finds a familiar story: Kelly Ayotte and Maggie Hassan locked in a toss up race. This month they’re each at 42%. Although the overall state of the race hasn’t changed, Hassan has seen a decline in her approval rating from 50/39 in October to now 43/40. The decline has come entirely among Democratic leaning v0ters- she was at 81/8 with people who voted for Barack Obama in 2012 on our last poll, and now finds herself at just 69/15 with that same group. Those numbers suggest her decline might be a reflection of unhappiness over her position on refugees. Ayotte’s 40/42 approval spread is exactly what it was on our previous poll.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders both lead all of the Republican candidates for President in New Hampshire, but Sanders does an average of 4 points better in the match ups. The GOP hopeful who fares best against Sanders is Marco Rubio, who trails 45/41. Ben Carson trails him by 5 at 46/41, Carly Fiorina is down 8 at 48/40, Jeb Bush and Donald Trump each trail by 9 at 47/38 and 49/40 respectively, and the weakest Republican against Sanders is Ted Cruz who is down 10 at 48/38. Sanders is also the only candidate with a positive favorability rating among the overall electorate in New Hampshire, at 46/40.

Clinton leads all of the Republicans as well, although by smaller margins. She’s up 1 each on Rubio at 44/43 and Fiorina at 45/44, 2 each on Bush at 43/41 and Carson at 45/43, and has wider leads over Trump at 47/41 and Cruz at 47/39. There does appear to be potential for a closer general election than New Hampshire had in 2008 and 2012 at this point if Clinton is the nominee.

The New Hampshire Governor’s race is a mixed bag. Voters generically say they prefer a Democratic candidate 43/41. But Chris Sununu (67% name recognition) is far better known than either Colin Van Ostern (27% name recognition) or Mark Connolly (20% name recognition). That higher level of familiarity to voters helps Sununu lead Van Ostern 40/34 and Connolly 40/36. Sununu also starts out with a 60/12 lead over Frank Edelblut in the primary. Connolly (33/24) and Van Ostern (30/26) both lead Edelblut in hypothetical contests. The Democratic primary is very much in the air with 64% of voters undecided- Van Ostern leads Connolly 21/15 with the small swath of voters that does have a preference.

89% of New Hampshire voters support background checks on all gun purchases, to only 8% who are opposed to them. There’s broad bipartisan support for them with Democrats (93/5), independents (91/5), and Republicans (81/16) all giving more than 80% support. Voters in the state support an assault weapons ban as well by a narrower margin, 49/41.

We asked Granite State voters what they think Jesus would do when it comes to the Syrian refugees and 51% think he would say the United States should accept them to only 14% who think he would say to turn them away. Democrats (73/6) are a lot more inclined to think Jesus would say to accept the refugees than Republicans (29/20) are. 

New Hampshire provides more evidence that the Affordable Care Act is not the liability for Democrats that it used to be. 44% of voters in the state support it to 39% who are opposed- including 43/37 support from independents and also including a Democratic base (80%) that’s more in favor of it than the GOP base (73%) is against it. This is a total departure from what Obamacare polling used to be like. It used to persistently poll unpopular in swing states, and there used to always be much more united Republican opposition to it than Democratic support. The landscape has really changed for public opinion on this issue.

64% of New Hampshire voters support the EPA’s Clean Power Plan to only 28% who are opposed to it, including 65/26 support from independents. These numbers are consistent with the public demand we’re seeing for action on climate change everywhere that we poll.

Finally we find that 71% of voters in the Granite State support increasing the minimum wage to at least $10 an hour, compared to only 14% who want to leave it where it is and 12% who would like to see it eliminated altogether. Even among Republicans there’s 52% support for going to $10 an hour, showing that this is an issue where the Presidential candidates are well out of line with the base.

Full results here

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