While Bernie Sanders’ surge and Liz Warren’s slide made the national headlines, there’s another eye-catching finding from the new CBS News Battleground Tracker poll of New Hampshire Democrats: Life under GOP Gov. Chris Sununu is pretty darn good.
According to the poll of 519 likely Democratic primary voters, 74 percent feel things in New Hampshire are going either very well (13 percent) or somewhat well (61 percent). Just 24 percent say they feel things are going “somewhat badly,” and just 2 percent–well within the margin of error– say they’re going very badly.
These numbers would be good news for an incumbent governor coming from the population as a whole. But coming specifically from people who are voting in the other party’s primary? They’re extremely good news.
They also help explain why Sununu, a Republican governor of a state no GOP presidential candidate has carried since 2000, consistently ranks as one of the five most popular chief executives in the country. Sununu managed to survive the 2018 #BlueWave — which swept the GOP out of power in both houses of the state legislature — in part by touting the economic success and high quality of life in the Granite State.
“Strong positive feelings about the economy by Democrats is great news for the Governor,” veteran political scientist Dr. Wayne Lesperance of New England College told NHJournal. “Most voters place a premium on pocketbook issues and this poll suggests that the economy will not be an issue democratic candidates will be able to use against Sununu’s re-election efforts.”
“Any incumbent Governor loves it when 3 out of 4 voters from across the partisan aisle believe the state is on the right track, as it means people are not in the mood for change, at least at the state level,” AFP-New Hampshire state director Greg Moore told NHJournal. “Frankly, there’s a lot of reason for people to feel the state is headed in the right direction – we have a booming economy, our quality of life indices are all at the top of national rankings and people are moving here in droves.
“It’s also why Governor Sununu is winning the messaging war when he is pushing back against radical policy transformations in New Hampshire. If things are working so well, why change it?” Moore asks.
Two Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes and Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky, both from Concord, are already running in the NH Democratic primary for a chance to challenge Sununu. The state Democratic Party has already telegraphed its strategy: Link Sununu to President Donald Trump, who polls show is very unpopular in the Granite State.
Right now, the Democrats’ race for the governor’s mansion is an uphill climb — even among their own voters.