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On the trail: N.H. electoral divide— poll says Trump leads among the less educated 

  • President Trump listens during a briefing about the coronavirus in the Press Briefing Room of the White House on April 21 in Washington. AP

For the Monitor
Published: 4/30/2020 9:59:31 PM

With just over six months to go until November’s general election, a new survey in New Hampshire indicates Joe Biden with a single digit lead over President Trump in the crucial battleground state.

The former vice president and presumptive Democratic nominee tops the GOP incumbent in the White House by a 50%-42% margin among registered voters in the Granite State, according to a Saint Anselm College Survey Center poll released Wednesday evening.

While New Hampshire is known for traditionally holding the first primary in the race for the White House, it’s also quadrennially an important swing state in the general election. Four years ago Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton edged Trump by less than 3,000 votes to capture the state’s four electoral votes.

According to the poll, Biden enjoys an enormous 26 percentage point lead among women while Trump holds an 11 point lead among men. There’s also a wide educational divide, with Trump far ahead among voters with a two-year associates degree or less, and Biden with a large advantage among those with college, graduate school, and professional school degrees.

As expected, there’s a massive partisan divide, with Republicans overwhelming supporting Trump and Democrats overwhelmingly backing Biden. The former vice president holds a 20 point lead among undeclared – or independent – voters.

The president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic appears to be doing him no favors in New Hampshire. Only 42% of those questioned approved of the job Trump was doing handling the federal response to the outbreak, with 58% disapproving.

“This tracks very closely with his overall favorability (42%/58%) and job approval (43%/57%), suggesting that his leadership style continues to be highly polarizing,” according to New Hampshire Institute of Politics Executive Director Neil Levesque.

Levesque added that the coronavirus “will have an impact on this fall’s election, as 82% of voters say that leadership during this crisis will be an important factor in determining their votes.”

One caveat – Clinton led Trump in nearly every 2016 general election poll in New Hampshire from the summer through the end of October, when the race was actually all knotted up.

Health concerns outweigheconomic worries

More than seven in ten Granite Staters questioned in the poll said that public health concerns take precedence over economic concerns.

“While 73% report being significantly impacted by the response, 67% believe that the restrictions imposed in New Hampshire are just about right,” Levesque noted.

Nearly four in ten said they hope to see stay-at-home order in New Hampshire lifted in May – but less than a fifth expect that to happen. Nearly 40% predicted the restrictions would be lifted in June – with nearly a quarter saying they’d remain in effect throughout the summer.

Sununu’s numbers sky high

While Granite Staters give the president poor grades on handling the coronavirus, the poll indicates that they’re giving Sununu two thumbs up.

A whopping 86% of those questioned approved of the two-term Republican governor’s handling of the pandemic, with just 13% disapproving. Sununu’s overall approval rating as governor stands at an impressive 74%, with just a quarter saying they disapprove of the job he’s doing steering New Hampshire. That includes more than nine in ten Republicans, three-quarters of independents, and even a strong majority of Democrats saying he’s doing a good job.

Levesque emphasized that the governor’s approval rating and his 70% favorability rating “have been buoyed by his leadership during the epidemic.” At that will likely boost his chances of winning re-election this November as he runs for a third two-year term as governor.

Congressional delegationin positive territory

The four members of New Hampshire’s congressional delegation haven’t captured the state’s media spotlight compared to Sununu, but they’ve played no less an important role in combating the coronavirus pandemic.

All four Democrats – Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan and Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas – have strongly supported the federal stimulus packages passed by Congress and signed into law by the president to help workers, small businesses, and larger companies devastated by the collapse of the economy, as well as crucial aid for doctors, nurses, and other emergency personnel on the front lines battling the outbreak, and funding for increased testing for COVID-19.

Shaheen’s approval rating stands at 54%-40%, with Hassan at 51%-39%, Pappas at 48%-34%, and Kuster at 44%-39%. Shaheen, Kuster, and Pappas are all up for re-election in November, with Hassan facing re- election in 2022.

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