March 30, 2020
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Poll: NH governor popular, holds advantage over both Democratic challengers

File photos | Seacoast Online
File photos | Seacoast Online
New Hampshire 2018 gubernatorial candidates, from left, Democrat Steve Marchand, Democrat Molly Kelly, and Republican incumbent Chris Sununu.

With less than three months to go until November’s election, a new public opinion survey indicates Republican Gov. Chris Sununu’s approval rating remains strong among Granite Staters.

But a University of New Hampshire Granite State Poll released Monday also suggests that three-quarters of adults are still trying to decide which candidate they’ll support in the gubernatorial election.

The survey of adult New Hampshire voters also indicated Sununu leading both of his Democratic challengers – former state Sen. Molly Kelly and former Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand – by double digits in hypothetical general election matchups.

A separate poll released Sunday by the Saint Anselm College Survey Center, indicated Kelly with a very slight edge over Marchand in name recognition and a narrow edge in favorability among likely voters in New Hampshire’s Sept. 11 Democratic gubernatorial primary.

In the First Congressional District race, the poll suggested Executive Councilor Chris Pappas of Manchester and Iraq war veteran Maura Sullivan of Portsmouth far ahead of the rest of the 11-candidate field for the Democratic nomination when it comes to favorability and name recognition. The survey also indicated state Sen. Andy Sanborn of Bedford and Dover’s Eddie Edwards, the former chief enforcement officer for the state liquor commission, leading the rest of the five-candidate GOP field, when it comes to favorability and name recognition.

“Nearing his first re-election contest in the fall, Gov. Chris Sununu continues to enjoy broad approval,” UNH pollster Andy Smith said.

Sununu stood at 61 percent approval in the new poll, up slightly from 59 percent in the April UNH survey, with his disapproval at 21 percent, up five percentage points from April.

“Eighty-six percent of New Hampshire Republicans approve of the job that Sununu’s doing, the highest level of support he has enjoyed among Republicans during his tenure as governor,” Smith added.

Fifty-two percent of independent, or undeclared voters, gave Sununu a thumbs up, down 11 points from the last UNH poll. Forty-five percent of Democrats approved of Sununu’s performance as governor, up seven points from April.

Sununu favorable rating among Granite Staters stood at 52 percent, with 16 percent saying they view the first-term GOP governor unfavorably.

The poll suggested that 70 percent of Democrats and 68 percent of Republicans would definitely vote in November. That number dropped to 55 percent among independents.

Nearly three-quarters of those questioned said they’re still making up their minds on which candidate they’ll back for governor in November, with 15 percent saying they’re leading towards someone and 12 percent definitely decided.

Sununu topped Kelly 48 percent-32 percent in a hypothetical general election matchup, with one in five undecided. And he led Marchand by 48 percent-33 percent, with 19 percent unsure.

The poll indicated Kelly, a former five-term state senator from the Keene region, with 13 percent-5 percent favorable/unfavorable rating, with 75 percent of those questioned not able to form an opinion of the candidate.

The survey suggested that Marchand had a 11 percent-7 percent favorable/unfavorable rating, with 79 percent not able to form an opinion of the candidate.

Kelly had a 36 percent-5 percent favorable/unfavorable rating in the Saint Anselm survey, which questioned likely primary voters, who tend to follow politics more closely that the wider overall population. Marchand stood at 28 percent-6 percent favorable/unfavorable.

In the race to succeed retiring four-term Democratic Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter of Rochester, the Saint Anselm survey indicated Pappas with a 53 percent-5 percent favorable/unfavorable rating. Sullivan, who served at the VA and the Pentagon in President Barack Obama’s administration, stood at 42 percent-7 percent. Portsmouth native and former Somersworth mayor and Strafford County attorney Lincoln Soldati had a 19 percent favorable rating, with state Rep. Mindi Messmer a fraction behind, and Portsmouth native and high tech executive Deaglan McEachern at 16 percent favorability. Levi Sanders of Claremont stood at 13 percent, with none of the other Democratic candidates topping 10 percent favorability.

In the GOP nomination battle, the poll indicated Edwards with a 28 percent-4 percent favorable/unfavorable rating, with Sanborn at 26 percent-8 percent.

The Saint Anselm College poll was conducted Aug. 15-18, with 817 likely primary voters questioned by live telephone operators. The survey’s sampling error is plus or minus 4.9 points for the gubernatorial primary and 6.9 percentage points for the congressional primary.

The University of New Hampshire survey was conducted Aug. 2-19, with 501 Granite State adults questioned by live telephone operators. The survey’s overall sampling error is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points for the overall sample and 5 percentage points for general election questions.

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