NEC Poll: NH Cautious About Personal Finances and National Economy; Oppose Shopping on Thanksgiving | New England College
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NEC Poll: NH Cautious About Personal Finances and National Economy; Oppose Shopping on Thanksgiving

Support increased Social Security benefits and Medicaid Expansion

The polling program of New England College frequently connects with residents, voters, and client customers to understand opinions and preferences and identify trends.  Earlier this week when New Hampshire residents were asked if they thought the country’s economy would be stronger over the next year, they cautiously said yes.  In a New England College poll of 675 New Hampshire residents, 43% of respondents expect an improved economy, while 38% do not expect improvement, and 19% are unsure.  The NEC Poll, a nonpartisan entity that is part of the New England College’s Center for Civic Engagement, polled New Hampshire residents who are registered to vote in a telephone survey November 24 and 25, 2013.  The margin of error is 3.77% on all questions.

When asked about their personal finances 42% indicated the next year would be better, while 31% said they disagreed, and 27% were unsure. Poll respondents were also asked about their holiday spending plans and 17% expected to spend more than last year. “NH voters are very cautious about conditions over the next year,” explains Director of the NEC Poll, Dr. Ben Tafoya. “The NEC poll shows voters less optimistic than at this time last year when 49% were expecting better economic conditions. There is a substantial increase in the number of voters unsure about the next year.”

The NEC Poll reports 17% of Granite Staters expect to spend more on holiday shopping this year, slightly down from 19% last year.  57% of those polled said they expected to spend less and 26% said they were unsure which is higher than the 24% who indicated they were unsure last year.

“An interesting finding in the poll is that women are a bit more cautious than men on the future of their personal finances and the national economy,” explains Dr. Wayne Lesperance, Director of the Center of Civic Engagement at NEC.  “This could be a function of the challenging economic conditions that women face particularly in light of slow wage growth in the service sector.”

Thanksgiving Retail Unpopular

The poll also found the trend of retailers opening on Thanksgiving Day to be unpopular with New Hampshire voters. Only 15% of voters support seeing general consumer goods retailers open on Thanksgiving Day with 70% opposed, including 53% of voters who indicated they “strongly disagree” with the growing practice.

NEC also took a snapshot of voter opinion on federal and New Hampshire issues.

Unemployment Dominant Concern

When asked to choose the most important in a list of issues voters chose “lowering unemployment” as the most significant issue for the second year in a row at 40% followed by the federal deficit at 30%, holding down taxes at 16% and holding down prices at 7%.  Among democrats unemployment was cited by 63% of voters while among Republicans the federal deficit was first with 42%; with unemployment and taxes second at 25% each. Voters not in one of the two major parties picked unemployment as their top issue, but by a narrow margin. Women picked unemployment as their top issue at a significantly higher rate than men (43 to 36).

Social Security Benefits & Medicaid Expansion Popular

Increasing Social Security benefits is extremely popular with NH voters with 67% in favor of the action while only 20% oppose. A majority of Democrats (79%), Republicans (55%) and Independent minded voters (69%) all support increased benefits.

New Hampshire voters support the expansion of state Medicaid benefits to families up to $32,000 in income by a 52% to 33% margin, with 15% unsure. The question was designed to solicit feedback on the proposals for Medicaid supported by Governor Maggie Hassan and the House of Representatives. Here again we see a big partisan divide with only 29% of Republicans supporting the idea and Democrats favoring it by an overwhelming 84%. Voters un-enrolled in either party split 51% to 33% in favor of expansion.