Would becoming a national candidate running for the White House hurt Gov. Chris Sununu at home? Not according to the latest poll from the UNH Survey Center. In fact, quite the opposite.
Since December, when talk of a Sununu presidential race first began, Sununu’s net approval has nearly tripled, from +13 to +36.
“Entering his fourth term as governor, Chris Sununu remains a popular governor,” the UNH Survey Center reported Tuesday. “Currently, 66 of New Hampshire residents approve of Governor Sununu’s job performance, 30 percent disapprove, and 5 percent neither approve, disapprove or don’t know,” according to the Granite State Poll, a States of Opinion Project, conducted by the center.
Sununu is also viewed far more favorably than the other two statewide elected officials, Democratic Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen. Sununu has a 49/26 percent favorable to unfavorable rating (+26), while Shaheen is at 41/35 percent (+6) and Hassan is barely above water at 40/38 percent (+2).
One reason is Sununu’s popularity among self-identified independents (63 percent favorable), far higher than either Hassan (36 percent) or Shaheen (41 percent). Another is his relatively strong performance among partisans across the aisle. GOP support for the two Democrats is stuck in the low single digits, while one in five self-identified Democrats had a favorable view of Sununu.
High favorable ratings are hardly new for Sununu, who has consistently polled as one of the most popular governors in the country. Do positive poll numbers at home help his potential presidential run?
UNH Survey Center Director Andy Smith sees a mixed result for Sununu’s possible White House hopes.
“Sununu is in good shape in New Hampshire, even among Democrats, and he can certainly use that finding as evidence that he is not a divisive candidate. That said, being a candidate who can appeal across party lines is not something that many Republicans, especially MAGA Republicans, will see as an asset.”
Sununu says he is seriously considering a run, a message he confirmed on yet another national cable news appearance Tuesday night. Asked by Fox News host Bret Baier about Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg being a no-show at the toxic train wreck in East Palestine, Ohio, Sununu said he wasn’t impressed.
“Terrible. Absolutely terrible,” Sununu went on. “I was an environmental engineer for about a dozen years. My job was cleaning up hazardous waste sites. You’ve got to have people on the ground. People are scared. They have every right to be scared, there are a lot of unknowns.
“To say, ‘we have some people there,’ no–you need leadership. You need decision-makers on the ground,” Sununu added.
And as he has done in the past, Sununu used his record in New Hampshire to pitch himself as a national candidate. In particular, Sununu told Baier, his ability to inspire candidates across the aisle. “It’s about who can inspire the party to be bigger, who can inspire independents to get on board. If you can’t get the independents, none of this matters.”
Asked if he believed a rise of the middle right will happen Sununu responded, “Without a doubt. People are yearning for a new voice to inspire them, not yell at them.”
Veteran GOP strategist Dave Carney said Sununu’s poll results are “just another data point that demonstrates Gov. Sununu’s brand of leadership wears very well with New Hampshire voters.”
Asked if they would influence GOP primary voters in Iowa or South Carolina, Carney replied, “That’s what campaigns are for.”