Meet the new poll, same as the old poll.
A new survey released by St. Anselm College on Thursday — the day Joe Biden formally accepted his party’s nomination for president — finds President Donald Trump trailing the former vice president in New Hampshire 43 to 51 percent, largely unchanged from the 42 to 50 percent margin in the St. A’s April poll.
“Trump’s numbers just don’t move,” New Hampshire Institute of Politics Executive Director Neil Levesque told NHJournal. “He’s got his people and they’re with him, and that’s that.”
Unfortunately for the incumbent president, “his people” don’t appear to be enough of the electorate to carry New Hampshire. Trump has consistently polled in the low 40s in the Granite State for the past 18 months — both before the COVID-19 crisis and five months into it.
In April, Trump was at 42 percent favorable, 58 percent unfavorable. Today it’s 41/58. No movement. Not that Joe Biden’s numbers are blowing the doors off. He’s underwater at 49 favorable, 50 unfavorable.
President Trump’s support closely tracks the NHGOP’s.
Asked “If the election for Congress were held today, for which candidate would you likely vote,” 42 percent said Republican back in April, and 44 percent picked the GOP today. If Trump can’t expand his support beyond the GOP base, it’s extremely unlikely he’ll achieve the campaign’s stated goal of flipping New Hampshire.
It’s not that independents won’t back Republicans. Gov. Chris Sununu’s approval rating is 67 approve/31 percent, and his approval on handling COVID-19 is even higher at 73 approve/26 percent. He’s significantly more popular than Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (53/42 percent), who’s got the best numbers of any Democrat in the poll.
“Nobody’s shopping for a governor, it’s simple,” says GOP political strategist Patrick Griffin of Merrimack Potomac + Charles. “People like Sununu and have no idea who the Democrats are. If you’re not shopping, you’re not interested in making a change.”
Meanwhile, Sununu’s would-be challengers are struggling to get any attention for the electorate. A stunning 64 percent of Democrats have either no opinion or have never heard of state Sen. Dan Feltes, who’s running in the Democratic primary for governor. For his competitor, Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky, that number is 65 percent.
While those numbers are disappointing for both candidates, they’re particularly damaging to Feltes. His campaign is up on TV with a $250,000 buy and he’s got the backing of most of his party’s establishment. And yet in the head-to-head matchup, he’s basically tied with Volinsky at 22-19 percent, with nearly half of the electorate — 46 percent — still undecided.
“If the Dan Feltes’ campaign spent less time chirping on Twitter and instead tried connecting with voters, maybe more than two-thirds of Democrats would have been able to form an opinion on him,” said Sununu supporter and former state Rep. Gates Lucas. “Instead, he’s left to scramble and burn cash 19 days before the primary to ensure an avowed socialist doesn’t embarrass him.”
So are the races for president and governor in New Hampshire already over? Griffin doesn’t think so.
“I think the Trump/Biden race is tighter than this or any survey will show. Trump’s base underreports and independent voters aren’t telling anybody they may stick with Trump,” Griffin said.” If the election were held tomorrow, Biden would likely win. The problem for Biden is the election isn’t tomorrow.
“This dance has just begun, and the one thing that hasn’t been factored into all of this is the supernova effective of too much Joe.”
Levesque says the would-be challengers are still fighting against the calendar.
“New Hampshire voters traditionally start focusing on the general election soon after Labor Day,” he said. “Although there is a high degree of voter interest already, the races will come into sharper focus once the parties have chosen their nominees in a couple of weeks. As stable as the political environment has been for incumbents so far, the races have yet to begin in earnest.”