Polls show Shea-Porter in tight race; Kuster, Hassan lead challengers
U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster is in a stronger position to win re-election than her colleague and fellow Democratic U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, according to a new WMUR Granite State Poll released last night.
The poll shows Kuster, who represents the 2nd Congressional District, with a comfortable lead over her three Republican opponents despite her 34 percent approval rating. State Rep. Marilinda Garcia of Salem, former state representative Jim Lawrence of Hudson and former state senator Gary Lambert of Nashua are running in the Republican primary. Of the three, Lambert comes the closest to Kuster, pulling in 36 percent of likely voters to Kuster’s 46 percent, with a 6.2 percent margin of error. Lawrence and Garcia each have the support of 35 percent of voters compared with Kuster’s 47 percent and 49 percent, respectively.
The race is much tighter for Shea-Porter, who represents the 1st Congressional District. She has a 43 percent approval rating and will face either businessman Dan Innis or former U.S. representative Frank Guinta on Election Day. If the election were held today, Guinta would attract 46 percent of voters to Shea-Porter’s 43 percent, the poll shows. The poll has a 6 percent margin of error.
Innis is still far behind Guinta in terms of name recognition, but trails Shea-Porter by just 7 percentage points in a head-to-head matchup.
Meanwhile, incumbent Gov. Maggie Hassan has a strong lead over both of her Republican challengers, Walt Havenstein and Andrew Hemingway.
A WMUR Granite State Poll released Monday shows 86 percent of voters don’t know enough about Havenstein to have an opinion and 88 percent say the same for Hemingway. In head-to-head matchups held today, Hassan would beat Havenstein 55 to 29 percent and Hemingway 54 to 28 percent, with a 4.3 percent margin of error.
Andy Smith, director of the UNH Survey Center, said Havenstein’s and Hemingway’s low name recognition and polling isn’t very surprising, as few voters are paying attention to the politics in the summer months. What both candidates should be focusing on right now is building an organization of voters who are guaranteed to come out to the polls on primary day, which should have a voter turnout of only about 15 percent.
The bigger concern for both candidates should be Hassan’s 60 percent job approval rating, Smith said. She has a 40 percent approval rating among Republicans, the poll shows. The poll has a 3.8 percent margin of error.
“Hassan’s job approval numbers are quite high, and this may be the biggest problem that any Republican candidate has. When you have an incumbent running, people tend to vote for or against the incumbent,” Smith said. “Republicans aren’t necessarily anxious to throw Hassan out.”
Monday’s poll also shows that if the election happened today, Republicans would take back the New Hampshire House and keep control of the Senate. Although the results are highly dependent on turnout, the poll said that if the election were held today, Republicans would win 222 out of 400 House seats and 15 out of 24 Senate seats.
Poll results for the U.S. Senate race will be released today.
(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3309 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @kronayne.)