Hassan Improves; NH Voters Sour

By Jim Ellis

New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan (D)

Jan. 24, 2022 — The New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm’s College in Manchester, NH just completed one of their regular statewide political surveys, and while Sen. Maggie Hassan’s (D) standing has improved since their last poll, the sample participants’ underlying attitude numbers are among the most negative in the country.

In what might be the quintessential political swing state since the turn of the century, these early results spell bad news for Democrats less than 11 months from the midterm elections. In a state that Joe Biden carried with a seven-point margin in 2020, the congressional generic number now favors Republicans in a 46-40 percent clip.

St. Anselm’s poll conducted over the Jan. 11-12 period surveyed online 1,215 registered Granite State voters. Led by a Right Track-Wrong Track (direction US is headed) response ratio of a hideous 16:74 percent, only Gov. Chris Sununu (R) finds himself in a favorable realm (53:44 percent), but even his positive index has dropped a net 36 points from his rating a year ago when compared with the Institute’s February 2021 survey.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s (D) job approval of 48:48 percent is the next best of the office holders tested. President Biden records a 41:58 percent positive to negative ratio. Former President Donald Trump, however, is not in much better shape with a personal approval score of 43:55 percent.

Though Sen. Hassan’s job approval has dropped to 45:51 percent, her standing against potential Republican opponents has improved. This is the first published statewide poll conducted since Gov. Sununu announced that he would not challenge her. Therefore, the GOP is left with potential 2022 candidates of much lesser standing. In earlier polling paired against Gov. Sununu, Hassan consistently trailed.

Retired army general and 2020 US Senate candidate Don Bolduc fares best among the tested Republicans, but still trailing Sen. Hassan, 43-36 percent. She tops recent Senate campaign entries Chuck Morse, the Granite State Senate president, 41-27 percent, and former Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith, 42-24 percent. On the other hand, the Senator not exceeding 43 percent against candidates largely unfamiliar to the respondent universe – 33 percent have not heard of Bolduc, 47 percent couldn’t identify Morse, and Smith was unknown to 59 percent — still must be considered weak.

The news for Rep. Chris Pappas (D-Manchester) is actually worse than his 43:46 percent job approval score suggests. The 1st District generic result already favors Republicans 48-40 percent in a seat that redistricting will likely make much redder. New Hampshire Republicans control the redistricting pen and the draft maps suggest they will make a more partisan 1st District than the current seat that has swung between the parties more frequently than any in the United States. Considering this factor, Rep. Pappas’ political outlook is dimmer.

On the other hand, veteran Rep. Annie Kuster (D-Hopkinton) who records a more negative job approval score than Pappas at 40:48 percent and plus-4 Republican generic result, will benefit from redistricting. In a two-district state, if the 1st District becomes more Republican, by definition the 2nd District will trend more Democratic.

The driver here looks to be the independent voter. The crosstabs segment the non-Republican or Democrat respondent into the Undeclared, moderate, and swing categories. It is here where Republicans are making major inroads and, should this pattern continue, will likely be a precursor to the GOP performing well in the midterm elections.

The self-described “swing voter” in this poll records an even worse Right Track-Wrong Track response of 4:89 percent. The moderates responded with a 10:77 percent ratio, and the undeclareds posted 15:75 percent, which is virtually the same as the overall statewide response.

On the generic vote response, the swings were breaking for the unnamed Republican candidate, 44-11 percent, the moderates, 44-21 percent, and the Undeclareds, 42-36 percent. The Biden job approval was much worse among these segments: swings, 19:80 percent favorable to unfavorable, the moderates, 29:70 percent, and the undeclareds, 40:60 percent.

If the election were next week, this poll suggests a Republican sweep and even though Sen. Hassan is leading over the GOP field, once her eventual opponent becomes better known such a result is likely to change. Though it appears New Hampshire Democrats have a great deal of work to do to improve their position, opinions change fast and much time remains before the voters again cast their ballots.

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