By Jim EllisMarch 1, 2021 — Republican leaders have been consistently promoting the idea that by New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) challenging first-term Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) it would give the GOP its strongest chance of converting the seat. A new poll supports their assertion.
The University of New Hampshire’s pollsters released the results of their regular Granite State Poll, and though this organization was previously one of the least reliable survey research entities, their record has improved in recent elections. Before, they conducted polls over excessively long sampling periods, which led to a large error factor and was a key reason they badly missed some previous polling.
Such methodological flaws have been corrected in the past few election cycles, thus making their data a better gauge of the New Hampshire electorate. Their latest survey conducted over the Feb. 18-22 period and involving 1,676 likely general election voters from their pool of 1,868 Granite State Poll panel members was conducted online. Its results were then weighted to make their sample better resemble the New Hampshire voting universe.
The previous explanation is not to exempt the Granite State pollsters from producing some eyebrow-raising numbers, however. While its tight ballot test numbers are believable for a state’s electorate whose voting patterns have seemingly swung wildly since the turn of the century, seeing an incumbent trailing badly among Independents so early in an election cycle appears questionable.
The ballot test pairing Sen. Hassan with Gov. Sununu finds the Republican state chief executive taking a two-point lead over the incumbent, 48-46 percent. This is a believable outcome when seeing Sununu carrying a 55:19 percent favorability ratio as compared to Sen. Hassan’s 42:38 percent.
What appears bizarre is finding Sen. Hassan trailing the governor 56-18 percent among Independents. That such a widespread gap actually exists within this group seems unlikely, and even the depiction of voters identifying with a party compared with their reported voter registration appears inconsistent. While only 17 percent of the study respondents ID themselves as Independents, 42 percent say they are undeclared voters with regard to party registration.