NEC Poll: Incumbents Have the Advantage
Election-related poll series will track State’s ballot leaders
In the immediate aftermath of New Hampshire’s 2014 primary elections, voters appear to be favoring incumbent candidates for now. According to the latest results of the New England College Poll, however, in most races Republican challengers are within striking distance. In a polling sample of 630 registered, likely voters, the incumbent candidate leads in each race with the largest margin in the Governor’s race, and most narrow margin in the First Congressional District.
“With less than eight weeks until election day there are no contests out of reach for the challengers,” said 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. “It is clear from our poll results that incumbents are enjoying an advantage over their challengers.”
United States Senate
In perhaps the most watched race of the cycle for US Senate, democrat Senator Jeanne Shaheen leads republican challenger Scott Brown 51% to 40.2%. 4.5% of respondents would prefer another candidate and 4.2% are unsure.
“This is the race that has captured national attention,” said Lesperance. “Senator Shaheen’s margin is significant but not insurmountable. With the general election less than a week old, Scott Brown has his work cut out for him.”
Of the two congressional races, the first Congressional District has the narrowest margin between democratic Representative Carol Shea-Porter (46%) and former Representative and republican Frank Guinta (41.6%). 6.5% said they preferred another candidate while 5.9% of respondents were not sure who they would support.
“There’s no question this is the tightest margin among the races in the Granite State,” said Lesperance. “And in such a close race, voters should expect to see the candidates in a pitched battle for every vote.”
The second Congressional District results show democratic Representative Anne McClane Kuster over republican challenger Marilinda Garcia 49.6% to 36.7%. Respondents preferring another candidate were at 6.1% with 7.6% not sure about who they will support.
According to Lesperance, “Representative Kuster’s lead among respondents at just under 13% represents quite a challenge to Garcia. But, in a district that leans democratic and features a relative newcomer in Garcia, this race is closer than some might expect.”
In the race for New Hampshire Governor, respondents preferred democratic Governor Maggie Hassan to republican challenger Walt Havenstein 51.3% to 36.2%. 3.9% indicated they would vote for another candidate and 8.6% said they were not sure.
“With one exception in recent memory, voters have rewarded the incumbent Governor with a second term. At this point in the race, Governor Hassan’s lead appears to indicate voters are not ready to replace her with Walt Havenstein,” explained Lesperance.
Presidential Job Performance
Finally, the New England College poll asked respondents to rate President Obama’s job performance. 48.4% indicated they either approved or somewhat approved while 48.3% indicated they disapproved or somewhat disapproved. Only 3.2% indicated they had no opinion.
According to Dr. Lesperance, “the results are a tie for all intents and purposes. President Obama, as the leader of the democratic party, will have no coattail effect in the Granite State and might have an undertow effect on democrats with his job performance approval at under 50%.”
This New England College Poll was conducted over two days, September 10 and 11, 2014. The sample of 630 respondents was pulled from a list of registered voters in New Hampshire and conducted using Interactive Voice Response technology, an automated polling system. The poll’s margin of error is +/- 3.98%
New England College will poll regularly between now and election day, November 4, 2014.
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