UNH poll: Sanders, Biden, early front-runners in 2020 presidential primary; Trump support lukewarm

For the Monitor
Thursday, October 19, 2017

Take them with a grain of salt – the next New Hampshire presidential primary is still more than two years away – but a new poll indicates that Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former vice president Joe Biden top a large list of potential Democratic White House contenders.

The Granite State Poll by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center also suggests that less than half of those likely to vote in the 2020 GOP presidential primary say they plan to support incumbent President Donald Trump.

Thirty-one percent of likely Democratic voters say Sanders was their early choice from a list of possible 2020 presidential candidates in a poll released Wednesday.

Sanders crushed eventual Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire’s February 2016 first-in-the-nation Democratic presidential primary, launching him toward a long and bitter battle with Clinton for the nomination. Sanders eventually endorsed Clinton in July at a large rally in Portsmouth.

The longtime independent senator is set to return to New Hampshire on Sunday, to headline the Strafford County Democrats’ Fall Celebration at the American Legion Hall in Rollinsford. It’s his second visit to the Granite State in less than two months. Sanders headlined Labor Day events in Manchester and Concord on Sept. 4.

Just under a quarter of Democratic voters (24 percent) chose Biden from the list of potential presidential candidates. The former vice president was last in New Hampshire in April, headlining a major state Democratic Party dinner.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts came in at 13 percent, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey was at 6 percent, and former Maryland governor and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley carried 3 percent support in the poll. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg were both at 2 percent support, with Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, as well as Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, all at 1 percent. Rep. John Delaney of Maryland, who this past summer announced he would run for the 2020 Democratic nomination, registered below 1 percent. Just over 1 in 10 were undecided.

Among those likely to vote in the 2020 Republican presidential primary, 47 percent said they’d back the president, with 23 percent saying they plan to vote for another candidate and 3 in 10 were unsure.

“Trump’s support among likely Republican primary voters at this early juncture is considerably weaker than his predecessor,” wrote UNH Survey Center pollster Andrew Smith.

At the same period eight years ago in October 2009, 64 percent of likely 2012 Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire said they planned to back Obama. Only 5 percent questioned in the earlier UNH poll said they planned to vote against the incumbent, with 3 in 10 unsure.

Trump’s lukewarm standing among likely 2020 GOP primary voters follows tepid approval ratings released by the UNH Survey Center on Tuesday. The president’s approval rating among Granite Staters of both parties stood at 33 percent, with 61 percent saying they disapproved of the job Trump’s doing in the White House. Nearly three-quarters of Granite State Republicans said they approved of the job the President was doing. That figure dropped to 29 percent among independent voters and 5 percent among Democrats.

Trump’s poor showing stands in contrast to first-term Gov. Chris Sununu. According to UNH Survey Center numbers released Monday, New Hampshire’s first Republican governor in a dozen years had a 61 percent-15 percent approval-disapproval rating.

The Granite State Poll was conducted Oct. 3-15 by the UNH Survey Center, with 573 New Hampshire adults questioned via telephone by live operators. The poll’s sampling error is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.