The University of New Hampshire Survey Center released a series of results from this month’s Granite State Poll, a States of Opinion Project.
In the head-to-head Republican primary, former President Donald Trump holds a solid lead over his competitors, grabbing 37 percent support from likely Republican primary voters – a five-point drop from his support in April. Forty-three percent say they would be enthusiastic if he is the nominee again.
For Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, UNH’s poll is one of the best he has seen in a while, coming in at 23 percent support (a one-point increase since April).
But the real winner is Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.). UNH has Scott at eight percent support, a third-place finish and a six-point bump from April – the best he has performed in a New Hampshire poll so far. The promising results came while Scott was in the Granite State for a packed town hall in Salem.
Perhaps more significantly, Scott is the most popular Republican in the presidential field. His net favorability (+46 percent) is significantly greater than DeSantis’s (+32 percent) and Trump’s (+23 percent).
“Tim Scott has the money, and he’s got a message that’s different from the other candidates in that it’s very positive, he hasn’t attacked Trump, and that’s showing up in his favorability ratings,” Andy Smith, director of the UNH Survey Center, told Drew Cline on the WFEA Morning Update.
“Liking the personality of the person who’s got an upbeat view of the world, I think that’s the biggest asset that Scott has going for him now. And it’s showing up in some of the polls here and nationwide, and his fundraising demonstrates that.”
UNH Professor of Political Science Dante Scala noted Scott’s numbers are likely the result of his advertising prowess. “He and his Super PAC have been active in New Hampshire,” Scala told NHJournal. “It just shows how much paid advertising can drive public opinion in the early stages.”
Noting that none of the other candidates have attacked Scott yet, Scala said, “All the positive advertising is like steroids. It inflates your numbers…but when push comes to shove, will those numbers hold up when you’re under pressure?”
UNH’s poll spells trouble for former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and former Vice President Mike Pence. Despite spending more time in the state than most, if not all, other candidates so far, Haley’s five percent puts her behind candidates like former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, North Dakota’s Gov. Doug Burgum, and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.
“It shows the limits of retail politicking, even in New Hampshire,” Scala said, noting that he has yet to see much Haley advertising on television or in the mail.
And behind Haley at just one percent is Pence. Worse, the former vice president is the second-most unpopular candidate (net favorability of -33 percent). “If you look at the people who have the lowest favorability ratings, it’s Chris Christie and Mike Pence,” Smith observed. “Those are the two Republicans that have been most critical of Trump.”
The good news for all the Republican candidates, however, is that there’s room to grow. Only 36 percent of likely Republican primary voters have decided who they’re voting for, while 62 percent are either leaning toward a candidate or trying to decide.
On the Democratic side, President Biden has 70 percent support among likely Democratic primary voters, though only 36 percent said they would be enthusiastic if he is the nominee.
“Democratic voters here are definitely behind Biden…but they’re not really enthusiastic about their support for Biden,” Smith said, signaling there may be room on the Democratic side for another candidate to jump into the race. “He’s the head of the party, he’s the incumbent president, they’re backing him, but that means that many Democrats would kind of want somebody else.”
Scala, on the other hand, didn’t jump to this conclusion. “An unenthusiastic vote counts just as much as an enthusiastic vote.”
Meanwhile, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., whose potential for success hinges almost entirely on how he performs in New Hampshire, is only garnering 10 percent support from primary voters. Worse still, he’s widely unpopular among Granite State Democrats; his net favorability is -60 percent.
While the most common word used to describe Biden is “old,” RFK Jr. is most often described by Democrats as “crazy,” “dangerous,” and “insane.”
Interestingly, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of New Hampshire Democrats would write in Biden’s name if he doesn’t show up on the primary ballot.
That is the Biden campaign’s current course since the DNC tried stripping New Hampshire of its First-in-the-Nation slot, an act many thought would hurt Biden with Granite State Democrats. But, Scala observed, “There’s not much evidence Biden is being punished…for what he’s doing to the First-in-the-Nation primary.”
The Granite State Poll was conducted from July 13 to July 17, with an overall margin of error of +/- 2.2 percent and a 25 percent response rate. There were 898 likely Republican primary voters (margin of error of +/- 3.3 percent) and 743 likely Democratic primary voters (margin of error of +/- 3.6 percent) included in the sample.