Poll indicates voters unhappy with Hassan while Bolduc leads in GOP primary

  • Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) visited Peterborough on June 10, 2022, after filing for reelection in Concord earlier in the day. Ben Conant / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

For the Monitor
Published: 8/16/2022 2:53:58 PM

A new poll indicates that only 39% of New Hampshire registered voters believe Maggie Hassan has done a good enough job to deserve re-election to the U.S. Senate, with 53% saying it’s time for someone new.

Yet when it comes to the Republican primary candidates vying to face off against her in the November election, name recognition remains a key factor and voters are largely undecided on who they like best.

With less than a month to go until the GOP primary, poll numbers suggest retired Gen. Don Bolduc holds a sizeable lead over his rivals.

Bolduc, an Afghanistan war veteran who grabbed attention during his unsuccessful 2020 GOP Senate nomination run and who launched his current campaign just days after the 2020 election, stands at 32% support among registered Republican voters in New Hampshire who were questioned in a St. Anselm College Survey Center poll conducted Aug. 9 to 11 and released on Tuesday.

The retired general is a strong supporter of former President Donald Trump’s repeated unsubstantiated claims that the 2020 election was “rigged.” Bolduc was part of a group of retired generals who signed a letter questioning the legitimacy of the election due to what they charged was “a tremendous amount of fraud.”

According to the poll, Bolduc enjoys a double-digit lead over state Senate President Chuck Morse, who’s second in the survey, at 16% support. Former Londonderry town manager Kevin Smith and free stater and cryptocurrency entrepreneur Bruce Fenton both stood at 4% in the survey, with businessman, economist and author Vikram Mansharamani at 2%. A whopping 39% of those questioned remained undecided.

Neil Levesque, executive director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College, highlighted that name recognition is a factor in the poll’s results.

“At this point Republican primary voters are leaning towards people they have some bit of familiarity with,” Levesque said while acknowledging the large number of undecided voters.

With the Sept. 13 primary nearing, and some of the candidates likely to launch ad blitzes in the coming days and weeks, the question is whether Bolduc – who’s fundraising has been lackluster – can maintain what appears to be a formidable advantage over his rivals. Another question is whether Trump – who more than a year and a half removed from the presidency, remains the most powerful politician in the GOP – will endorse one of the contenders in the race.

In the GOP primary in New Hampshire’s Second Congressional District to challenge five-term U.S. Rep Annie Kuster, the survey points to a wide-open race, with nearly two-thirds of those questioned undecided.

Republican businessman and former Hillsborough County treasurer Bob Burns, who ran successfully for the 2018 Republican congressional nomination, stands at 12% support, with Keene Mayor George Hansel at 10% and liberty activist Lily Tang at 8%. Burns is spotlighting his support for Trump as a centerpiece of his campaign, while the more moderate Hansel enjoys the backing of GOP Gov. Chris Sununu.

In the race to take on two-term Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas in the First Congressional District, the poll suggests 2020 GOP nominee Matt Mowers with a slight 25%-21% edge over first-time candidate Karoline Leavitt in a battle between two Trump administration veterans. Mowers, a former New Hampshire GOP executive director and veteran of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, worked in the State Department during the Trump administration. Leavitt is a veteran of the Trump White House press office.

Former longtime TV reporter Gail Huff Brown, the wife of former senator and Trump’s ambassador to New Zealand Scott Brown, stood at 9%, state Rep. Tim Baxter at 8%, and former state senator and executive councilor Russell Prescott at 2%. One-third of those questioned were undecided.

The St. Anselm results in the First District stood in contrast to a new poll commissioned by the conservative-leaning New Hampshire Journal, which indicated Mowers at 31%, Leavitt at 16%, and everyone else in single digits. The New Hampshire Journal survey was conducted Aug. 13 to 14.

Looking ahead to November’s general election, when the Democrats are hoping to hold onto their razor-thin majorities in the U.S. House and Senate, many voters say they are looking for new blood in Washington, according to the St. Anselm poll.

In the Second District, only 36% of registered voters said Kuster has done a good enough job to deserve re-election and 51% said it’s time for someone new. Thirty-eight percent of those questioned said Pappas deserved to win a third term in the First District, with 47% wanting someone new in Congress.

The poll also spotlighted the importance of the issue of abortion following the June ruling by the conservative majority of the Supreme Court of the United States to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade case and send the contentious issue of legalized abortion back to the states.

Of the nearly 2,000 registered voters questioned, more than seven in ten identified as abortion rights supporters, with a quarter describing themselves as against abortion rights.

Nearly 60% said they opposed the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling, with 38% in support. Six in ten said the issue of abortion would be very important in determining their vote in the November elections.

Levesque noted that while the Democratic incumbents suffer from lackluster re-election numbers, “abortion could be the saving grace as they go towards the November election.”

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