By Jim EllisDec. 6, 2021 — A new Tarrance Group poll of the New Hampshire general electorate conducted for potential US Senate candidate Corky Messner (R) shows the Republicans in a favorable position to challenge Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) even without Gov. Chris Sununu (R) as her opponent.
The survey (Nov. 14-17; 500 likely 2022 New Hampshire general election voters, live interview) finds Messner lagging only two points behind the first-term senator, 47-45 percent. This type of ballot test result shows a weaker standing for the Republican nominee than when Gov. Sununu was paired with Hassan — in virtually every poll during the past year, the governor was leading — but a lesser known candidate’s support figure lying within the polling margin of error is certainly a positive sign for Republican chances.
Digging deeper into the poll, we find positives for both candidates. Sen. Hassan’s job approval rating is in positive territory at 50:45 percent, with a personal favorability index of 48:44 percent. Though her numbers are not stellar, considering the generic question (would you vote for a Republican or Democrat for US Senate) actually favored the GOP by a 45-42 percent count, her standing is at least stable within the context of what, for her, is an adverse political climate. Typically, the Democrats almost always lead on the generic question.
Perhaps the biggest positive for Messner from this data revolves around a ballot test within the cell group of respondents who are familiar with both candidates. This is a particularly large cell, since 74 percent of the sample participants expressed knowledge of both contenders. In looking at the ballot test figures within just this group, Messner forges into the lead, 50-43 percent.
Assuming the electorate at large would also behave in such a manner upon gaining adequate familiarity with both candidates, such a finding would be highly significant and reinforces the analysis that New Hampshire remains the Republicans’ strongest conversion opportunity.
Messner has not yet announced for the Senate, only saying he is considering becoming a candidate. He was the party’s 2020 Senate nominee, losing to Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D), 57-41 percent, with the senator outspending Messner, $17 million to $7 million.