Despite the COVID-19 crisis and President Donald Trump’s poor polling in the Granite State, GOP Gov. Chris Sununu holds a massive 30-point lead over his Democratic challengers in the latest UNH Survey Center poll.
If the election were held today, Sununu would defeat N.H. Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes 59 to 28 percent. Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky loses to Sununu by a similar margin, 58 to 29 percent. Most significant is Sununu’s support hovering near 60 percent, a sign that Democrats face a steep climb to win the corner office no matter who they nominate.
“Sununu’s leads over both Feltes and Volinsky are nearly double the size of the leads he held over prospective opponents Molly Kelly and Steve Marchand during the summer of 2018,” the UNH survey reports. Sununu handily won re-election over Kelly amid a #BlueWave that swept Democrats into power in the legislature.
The Sununu campaign was pleased with the poll results.
“From their couches, Dan Feltes and Andru Volinsky have attacked, criticized and whined nonstop throughout this pandemic — and the voters of New Hampshire are not buying it,” campaign manager Paul Collins told NHJournal. “Chris Sununu continues to lead the state through these unprecedented times, delivering rapid relief for families and businesses affected by COVID-19.”
The UNH Survey Center also polled the 2020 U.S. Senate race and found incumbent Democrat Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in a similar position to Sununu — a big lead over both retired Gen. Don Bolduc and businessman Corky Messner. She’s beating both 54 to 35 percent.
“The fact that Messner and Bolduc have identical numbers against Shaheen is a sign that neither of them has broken out as individuals among the voters. They’re both just ‘the guy with the R,'” Andy Smith, Director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, told NHJournal.
“What I find most significant from this poll is that both Sununu and Shaheen have locked down their bases of support, while their opponents have yet to find a way to do what they need to,” Smith said.
While the head-to-head numbers are solid for Sununu, the crosstabs for both Feltes and Volinsky are troubling.
Both Democrats are losing to Sununu among independent voters by more than 60 points. They’re trailing Sununu among both men and women (the latter by a smaller margin), and Feltes is even losing young voters 18-34 to Sununu by eight points.
Volinsky has an 11-point lead over the governor among young people, who represent a key demographic in the Democratic Party’s coalition. Not that any group of Democrats is particularly enthusiastic about their party’s two potential nominees, however.
Just 26 percent of Granite State Democrats have a favorable view of Feltes, while 27 percent are neutral and 3 percent have a negative view. Among all voters, more people dislike Feltes than like him. He’s got a 13 percent approval rating and a 16 percent disapprove. A majority of Granite Staters (51 percent) don’t know who he is.
Volinsky fares a bit better. Among Democrats, he’s at 25 percent favorable, 19 percent neutral and six percent negative. But despite being one of the state’s five executive councilors and an outspoken progressive figure, 56 percent of voters say they don’t know enough about him to have an opinion.
Smith isn’t surprised. “It’s the ‘fallacy of Concord.’ People in the state Senate and on the Executive Council think the people of the state know and care about who they are. The fact is, most people in their own districts don’t know who they are.”
New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley tried to put the best spin on the numbers he could, tweeting:
“For those who follow UNH polling, today’s poll shows: NH Gov: Sununu drops 11 pts in one month. NH Sen: Shaheen increases lead 7 pts in one month. While polls are only snapshots and can be wrong, I would rather be a @nhdems than a @NHGOP with these trends.”
Sununu’s rating among all voters is 56 percent approve, 19 percent disapprove.
These numbers came from the latest UNH Granite State Panel survey of 2,022 Granite State Panel members between July 16 and 28, including 1,893 likely 2020 general election voters.
“As baseball season finally gets underway, the UNH Survey reflects another home run for Governor Sununu,” veteran NHGOP strategist Jim Merrill told NHJournal. “The enviably broad and deep support he’s earning from New Hampshire voters is a reflection of his strong and decisive leadership in handling COVID-19. In an increasingly contentious election cycle, Sununu’s consistently optimistic and forward-looking leadership style serve him well.”