A new Emerson College poll shows the three Republican challengers trailing the Democratic incumbents in this year’s contested federal races. Still, a new NBC News poll shows the GOP gets the best marks on the most important issues to voters nationwide.
The poll of 800 somewhat or likely Granite State voters taken Sept. 14-15 found Sen. Maggie Hassan with a 51 to 40 percent lead over GOP nominee, retired Gen. Don Bolduc. Only six percent of voters were undecided, despite Bolduc having won the GOP nomination a few days earlier.
Still, says Spencer Kimball, Executive Director of Emerson College Polling, Bolduc has relatively low name ID, which gives him a chance to define himself — or for Hassan to define him.
With 60 percent of respondents unsure about their perceptions of Bolduc, “the next few weeks will be important for him as he tries to introduce himself to voters while his opponent will try to highlight his weaknesses,” Kimball told NHJournal.
GOP strategist Rick Wiley is not concerned, noting the poll is very early and is hitting before the general election campaign has truly begun. He says it is Hassan who should be worried.
“Maggie Hassan is the most vulnerable senator in the country. There are a lot of naysayers out there and I tell every one of them — come on up to New Hampshire and see for yourself. National help is important in this race and the NRSC’s commitment is proof Gen. Bolduc will win this seat in November.”
According to both published media reports and GOP sources, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund PACs are still investing in the Bolduc campaign. Over the weekend, NRSC chairman Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) said he is “100 percent certain the GOP will win control of the Senate in November.”
In an interview, Scott talked up the quality of Senate candidates in states like Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania, and included Bolduc. “These guys have great backgrounds. And they’re working hard. They’re running good races.
“And let’s look at this,” Scott added. “Biden’s numbers are under 40 in every one of those states. This is a referendum on Biden.”
In the two congressional races, Rep. Annie Kuster has a sizeable 54-36 percent lead over Republican Bob Burns in the Second Congressional District. However, Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas (NH-01) has just a 47-42 percent lead over GOP newcomer Karoline Leavitt, despite her lower name ID and being bombarded by negative ads during the Republican primary.
One of the most accurate predictors of midterm outcomes is presidential job approval. In the Emerson poll, Biden’s standing among Granite Staters is 41 percent approve, 50 percent disapprove. Those numbers actually represent progress for Biden over his previous performance.
At the same time, the president’s performance on the most important issue — the economy — is well below his overall number. In a new NBC News poll released Sunday, Republicans have significant leads over Democrats on their ability to handle the economy, crime, and the border crisis.
Democrats dominate on abortion, healthcare, and education, but polls show Americans are still more focused on pocketbook issues. That trend was seen in the Emerson poll as well.
“Among voters who say the economy is the most important issue, 62 percent support Bolduc and 27 percent support Hassan,” Kimball said. “Voters who say abortion access is the most important issue break for Hassan over Bolduc 93 to 2 percent.”
Those economic numbers may also explain why, even as other Republicans struggle, Gov. Chris Sununu enjoys a solid 15-point lead over his Democratic opponent, state Sen. Tom Sherman (D-Rye), 52-37 percent.
Asked what the GOP’s best message is to win in November, Sununu told NHJournal it is all about inflation.
“Inflation is hitting every family in this state,” Sununu said. “The policies in Washington, D.C. have put trillions of dollars into the economy, driving up inflation. This is really hurting folks at home.”