Poll: Hassan has edge over challengers

For the Monitor
Published: 4/1/2022 4:40:31 PM
Modified: 4/1/2022 4:40:03 PM

As they try to win back the U.S. Senate majority in November’s midterm elections, Republicans for over a year have felt that with the right candidate, they could defeat former governor and first-term Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan, whom they view as vulnerable.

That’s why New Hampshire remains one of the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s top targets in the 2022 election cycle.

The latest public opinion survey in New Hampshire continues to suggest Hassan’s modest standing with Granite Staters, but also spotlights potential vulnerabilities among the Republican candidates vying to face off with the senator in the general election.

According to the Saint Anselm College Survey Center poll, Hassan stands at 46% approval and 49% disapproval among registered voters in New Hampshire. The senator’s approval rating has slightly edged up from last June, when it stood at 43% in Saint Anselm polling.

Neil Levesque, executive director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College, noted that the senator’s numbers are a “continued concern.”

Also doing Hassan no favors is President Joe Biden’s standing with Granite Staters. The president registers at 43% approval and 57% disapproval in the new survey, a slight improvement from January’s survey. And his approval rating on the economy held steady in negative territory, at 40%-58%. And the poll also indicated that registered voters – by a 53%-41% margin – prefer a candidate for federal office who would serve as a check on the president’s power versus one who would help Biden enact his agenda.

But the survey suggests that voters have yet to focus on the three main candidates running in the Republican primary.

According to the survey, retired Gen. Don Bolduc, who came in second to Corky Messner in the 2020 GOP Senate primary, is the best known of the Republican contenders. Bolduc had 70% name recognition, with a 26%-20% favorable/unfavorable rating among all voters. State Senate President Chuck Morse had 57% name recognition in the survey, with a 17%-13% favorable/unfavorable rating. And former Londonderry town manager Kevin Smith at 47% name recognition and a 13%-10% rating.

In hypothetical general election matchups, the survey indicates the senator edging Bolduc 44%-39%, topping Morse 43%-36%, and leading Smith 44%-34%.

But Levesque noted that when it comes to the hypothetical showdowns, “I don’t think you can make much of these head to heads right now because,” as he pointed to the “very little earned media so far on behalf of any of the Republican Senate candidates.”

Cryptocurrency entrepreneur Bruce Fenton was not included in the poll. Fenton, who describes himself as a Bitcoiner and free markets advocate, announced his bid for the GOP Senate nomination on Wednesday, after the survey was conducted.

Fenton, the CEO of Chainstone Labs in Portsmouth and the managing director of Watchdog Capital, a licensed securities brokerage firm, said he’ll advocate for freedom, human rights, free markets and peace as he runs for the Senate.

Asked about the poll, Hassan campaign spokesman Kevin Donohoe charged that “the Republican primary candidates have all been running underwhelming campaigns.”

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu’s approval rating in the new poll stands at 62%, with 36% disapproving. That’s up from 53%-44% in January’s survey.

And Sununu enjoys a 51%-34% lead over state Sen. Tom Sherman in a potential November gubernatorial general election face-off. Sherman, the only major Democrat to announce their candidacy so far, holds a 14%-12% favorable rating in the survey, with 47% saying they’ve never heard of the gastroenterologist from Rye.

Potential 2024 contenders coming to New Hampshire

Nikki Haley, who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under former President Donald Trump, returns to New Hampshire on Monday to campaign with a former official in Trump’s State Department who’s running a second straight cycle for Congress.

And the trip by Haley, a former two-term South Carolina governor who’s considered a potential 2024 GOP presidential hopeful, to the state that for a century’s held the first primary in the race for the White House, will spark more speculation about her possible national ambitions.

Haley will headline a handful of events on Monday for Republican congressional candidate Matt Mowers, including a grassroots rally in Derry and a fundraiser in Salem. Mowers is one of the top contenders in a crowded GOP primary field in the battleground state’s 1st Congressional District, a longtime premiere House swing district that the GOP’s aiming to flip from blue to red in November’s midterm elections.

The stop in New Hampshire will be Haley’s first since October 2020, when she campaigned with Mowers during his first bid for the seat. Mowers won the GOP nomination but lost the general election to Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas by five points. The two-term Democratic incumbent from Manchester and former Executive Council member is running for reelection.

On Tuesday morning, Haley will headline a fundraiser in Bedford to help elect state House Republicans. She’ll also hold meetings with GOP leaders and activists. Haley has been crisscrossing the country this cycle, campaigning and helping to fundraise for fellow Republicans running in the midterm elections.

Haley isn’t the only potential 2024 Republican White House contender stopping in New Hampshire this week.

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be in the state on Thursday.

The Army veteran and congressman from Kansas who served as CIA director and later as America’s top diplomat in the Trump administration will headline the Hillsborough County GOP’s annual Lincoln Reagan fundraising gala, which will be held at the Doubletree Hotel in Manchester. Pompeo was last in New Hampshire in August.

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