NEC Poll: Guinta Builds Lead in CD-1. Race for Governor Tightens. | New England College
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NEC Poll: Guinta Builds Lead in CD-1. Race for Governor Tightens.

Voters Also Say Debates have Little Impact on Their Decisions

As political campaigns enter their final week before elections next Tuesday, former Representative Frank Guinta has opened a small lead over Representative Carol Shea-Porter in the First Congressional District. The Governor’s race has also tightened up and the US Senate race remains a toss-up, according to the seventh weekly general election poll from New England College.

Dr. Wayne Lesperance, Professor of Political Science at New England College and Director of the Center for Civic Engagement which includes the New England College Polling Institute, said “In addition to jam packed campaign schedules, this past week voters had the opportunity to see all of the candidates in televised debates. Still, there has been only modest movement in the numbers.”

This week the New England College Poll asked voters about the impact of debates. “Most respondents said the debates had little, or no, impact on their candidate preference,” noted Lesperance. “The polling results bear this out.”

United States Senate

For the third week in a row the Senate race between incumbent Democrat Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Republican challenger Scott Brown is a virtual tie. Brown continues to enjoy a small lead, 48.3% to 46.8%. According to Lesperance, “A 1.5% margin is incredibly narrow and makes this race a statistical dead heat. Brown’s recent success comes from narrowing the lead Shaheen had with women to just under 5%.” 2.5% of respondents would prefer another candidate and 2.4% are unsure.

Congressional District-1

Republican Frank Guinta leads incumbent First Congressional District Democrat Representative Carol Shea-Porter 49% to 42.9%. “This week’s poll results provide good news for Guinta’s campaign,” said Lesperance. “While the change from a week ago is relatively small, his lead has expanded beyond the poll’s margin of error.” According to the poll, 4.1% said they preferred another candidate while 4% of respondents were not sure who they would support.

Congressional District-2

Second Congressional District Democrat Representative Anne McLane Kuster remains ahead of Republican challenger Marilinda Garcia. In this week’s poll, Kuster leads Garcia 49.2% to 42%. According to Lesperance, “The CD-2 poll results have been remarkably consistent over the past few weeks. With about one week until Election Day, Garcia must find a game changer moment if she hopes to top Kuster.” Respondents preferring another candidate were at 3.6% with 5.2% not sure.

Governor’s Race

For the first time this general election cycle, the Governor’s race has tightened considerably. Democrat Governor Maggie Hassan leads Republican challenger Walt Havenstein 47.2% to 46.9%. “Hassan has maintained a consistent lead, but over the past week the race has become a toss-up,” observed Lesperance. 2.2% indicated they would vote for another candidate and 3.7% said they were not sure.

NH Voter Opinion: The Impact of Debates

This week’s New England College Poll asked voters about the impact of debates on their candidate preference. 50% of respondents said the debates had no impact on their choice of candidate. Only 9.3% indicated that debates strongly impacted their candidate preference. 31.4% said that debates somewhat impacted their preference.

According to Lesperance, “These results appear to confirm conventional wisdom that debates change the minds of a relatively small number of voters. However, in races that are very tight, just a few voters can make a big difference in the final outcome.” Lesperance added, “A deeper look into the numbers reveals, unsurprisingly, that independents are more likely to be influenced by debates than registered Democrats and Republicans.”

This New England College Poll was conducted on October 24, 2014 using Interactive Voice Response technology, an automated polling system. A total of 1,132 responses were obtained: 556 from registered likely NH voters in Congressional District 1 and 576 from registered likely NH voters in Congressional District 2. The margin of error for questions about the Gubernatorial and Senate races, and candidate debates is +/- 2.91%. The margin of error for questions about the CD1 race is +/- 4.16%, and for CD2, +/- 4.08%.

This is the seventh in a series of weekly polls to be conducted by New England College through Election Day, November 4, 2014. For additional information, including previous polls, please visit www.nec.edu/about/centers-other-locations/the-nec-polling-institute/.

Poll Results & Crosstabs