On the trail: Trump remains underwater in battleground New Hampshire 

  • President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the White House, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) Evan Vucci

  • Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and her husband, Doug Emhoff, smile during the fourth day of the Democratic National Convention on Thursday at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Del. In a new Saint Anselm poll, more than three-quarters of Democrats said that putting Harris on the national party ticket makes them more confident of Biden’s chances in the election. AP

For the Monitor
Published: 8/20/2020 11:01:30 PM

It’s thumbs down for President Donald Trump and thumbs up for Gov. Chris Sununu in a new public opinion survey in New Hampshire.

The poll by the Saint Anselm College Survey Center released Thursday also indicates close contests for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination and Republican Senate nomination with less than three weeks to go until the Sept. 8 primary in New Hampshire.

According to the survey, 43% of Granite Stater voters approve of the job Trump’s doing in the White House, while 57% disapprove of how he’s handling his duties as president. Trump’s favorable rating is also underwater – at 41% favorable and 58% unfavorable. With a 49%-50% favorable/unfavorable rating, voters in New Hampshire are split on their views of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

If the presidential election were held today, the survey indicates that 51% of New Hampshire voters would back the former vice president and 43% would support Trump. Biden’s 8-point advantage over the president is up one percentage point from the previous Saint Anselm poll, which was conducted in June.

“Our polling on the national candidates has remained consistent through multiple polls since the beginning of the pandemic,” New Hampshire Institute of Politics Executive Director Neil Levesque said.

Despite Biden’s lead, voters are roughly split on whether Trump or the former vice president will win November’s general election.

“Interest in the fall elections remains very high, with 88% of all voters ‘extremely interested,’ including 95% of Democrat voters and 85% of Republican voters. This may presage a turnout advantage for Democrats, and is a possible indication that the highly polarized environment may be damaging Trump’s re-election chances,” Levesque noted.

The poll was conducted Saturday through Monday, entirely after Biden’s naming last week of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California as his running mate. More than three-quarters of Democrats said that putting Harris on the national party ticket makes them more confident of Biden’s chances in the election. But 7 in 10 Republicans said that naming Harris as his running mate weakens Biden’s standing.

While New Hampshire has held the first-in-the-nation presidential primary for a century, it’s also been one of a dozen or so key general election battleground states in recent decades.

Sununu, Shaheen remain popular

Sununu continues to enjoy poll numbers any politician up for re-election would love to have.

The Republican governor – who’s running for a third 2-year term steering New Hampshire – has a 73% approval rating among Granite Staters with just 26% disapproving of the job he’s doing in the corner office. And just over two-thirds of voters hold a positive opinion of the governor.

The poll indicates that at 82%-7%, Sununu remains far ahead of longshot primary challenger and conservative activist Karen Testerman.

It’s a very different story in the race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. The survey indicates Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes at 22% support and Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky at 19%. The slight edge for Feltes is within the poll’s margin of error. Forty-six percent said they were unsure, with 13% favoring “someone else.”

Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen stands at 53% approval and 38% disapproval in the poll. The former three-term governor is running this year for a third six-year term representing New Hampshire in the U.S. Senate.

In the Republican race to challenge Shaheen, Bryant “Corky” Messner has 31% support, with retired Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc at 29%. Messner’s slight 2-point edge is well within the survey’s sampling error. Nearly four in 10 say they’re undecided.

Many undecided in congressional races

Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster – who’s running for a fifth 2-year term representing New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives – has a 47%-38% approval/disapproval rating in the poll.

In the GOP primary to face off against Kuster in November, former state representative and 2018 Republican nominee Steve Negron leads U.S. Navy Reserve Capt. Lynne Blankenbeker – who is also running for Congress for a second straight election – by a more than two to one margin at 37%-15%. Forty-four percent of those polled said they were undecided.

In New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District, first-term Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas has a 43%-33% approval/disapproval rating in the survey.

In the Republican primary, former New Hampshire GOP executive director Matt Mowers leads former state party vice chair Matt Mayberry 23%-12%, with a whopping 57% unsure.

“New Hampshire voters traditionally start focusing on the general election soon after Labor Day,” Levesque noted. “Although there is a high degree of voter interest already, the races will come into sharper focus once the parties have chosen their nominees in a couple weeks. As stable as the political environment has been for incumbents so far, the races have yet to begin in earnest.”

The Saint Anselm College Survey Center poll was conducted Aug. 15-17, with 1,042 New Hampshire registered voters questioned online. The survey’s overall sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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