If the 2024 election were held today, and the two candidates for president were Democrat Joe Biden and Republican Chris Sununu, the GOP governor would trounce Biden in New Hampshire 53-36 percent.
That was just one of the many problematic findings for Biden from a new NHJournal poll released Monday night.
The poll also found Granite Staters believe America is on the wrong track by a nearly 3-to-1 margin (64-23 percent), and only 14 percent “strongly approve” of how Biden is doing his job.
On the question of whether Biden would be “physically and mentally up to the job” if America faced a crisis like war or another pandemic, a solid majority – 54 percent – said no.
“New Hampshire voters are angry and frustrated, and these brutal numbers make clear that in November, they intend to hold President Biden fully accountable for everything, from inflation and a porous border to Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars,” said veteran GOP strategist Jim Merrill, who has worked on multiple presidential campaigns in New Hampshire.
“Concerning 2024, the silent primary is already underway, and these numbers make clear that President Biden’s re-election hopes are dead in the water, while the speculation about a potential presidential candidacy by Gov. Sununu is – and will continue to be – very much alive,” Merrill added.
Biden’s problem isn’t Republicans. In America’s current polarized politics, having a job approval of just 13 percent with GOP voters is expected. But Biden’s numbers among Granite State independents are disastrous: 34 percent approve/61 percent disapprove. And 63 percent say they have little or no confidence that he is mentally and physically able to handle a crisis.
Additionally, early one in five New Hampshire Democrats (19.3 percent) say they disapprove of the job Biden is doing.
“I’ve polled in New Hampshire many times over the years, and while much can change before 2024, President Biden’s job approval numbers among Independents halfway through his first term are a major cause for alarm,” said pollster Jonathan Klingler of Praecones Analytica, which conducted the survey of 503 registered voters between April 14- 16.
The poll also contains bad news about Biden’s stop in Portsmouth to tout the bipartisan infrastructure spending bill. Asked what issue should be the top priority of the president and Congress, just 6.9 percent picked investing in infrastructure.
The top issue by far for Granite Staters is fighting inflation (50.2 percent), followed by lower gas prices (16 percent) and fighting climate change (14.6 percent). Additional COVID relief, another priority of Washington, D.C. Democrats, is at 4.9 percent.
With an approval rating underwater by 13 points (42-55 percent) and voters saying they would be less likely to support politicians who vote his way, does it make sense for New Hampshire Democrats to campaign with Biden on Tuesday?
“In short, yes,” said political science professor Wayne Lesperance of New England College. “Standing with the president is rarely a bad idea. It energizes primary voters, Democrats, and fans of the president. It may also energize party donors, too.”
Sen. Maggie Hassan and Rep. Chris Pappas (D, NH-01) both face uphill election battles, and they will both be on stage with Biden in Portsmouth.
“Any sensible Democratic candidate will try to distance themselves from an unpopular president, but it rarely works,” said veteran Democratic strategist Bob Shrum, director of the Center for the Political Future at USC Dornsife.
New England-based GOP strategist Pat Griffin agrees. “Maggie Hassan and Chris Pappas have stood with Joe Biden 98 percent of the time on issue after issue. To suddenly attempt to distance themselves from this disaster of a president on energy policy or immigration hardly makes either of them a profile in courage.”
Biden’s 42-55 approve/disapprove numbers in New Hampshire are slightly worse than his national RealClearPolitics average (41 approve/51.7 disapprove). And his approval rating is around the same low-40s approval Hassan and Pappas have held in recent polling. Their fates appear to be bound together.
“Keep an eye on both New Hampshire Democrats,” said Griffin. ”Standing too close to a president with polling numbers like these is radioactive. Their expressions will likely resemble a hostage video.”