The political leaning of New Hampshire’s independent voters thus far shows more support for Republicans over Democrats in races for president, governor and Congress.
This conclusion comes from an analysis of net favorability ratings among the state’s undeclared voters as measured by three WMUR Granite State Polls released this week by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center.
The three polls were released in rapid succession Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday:
Presidential race in New Hampshire;
Gubernatorial race in New Hampshire;
Congressional race in New Hampshire.
The focus is on undeclared voters because these independents, who make up a majority of the registered voters in the state, will ultimately decide who wins and who loses come the November general election. In general, Democrats support Democrats and Republicans support Republicans. But the undeclareds remain a toss-up.
In the presidential race, Democrat incumbent Barack Obama, who is scheduled to visit the state on Saturday, has a bigger negative to overcome among independents than his Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
The WMUR Granite State Poll in a head-to-head matchup shows Obama leading Romney 49 to 46 percent among state voters who have made up their minds. Given that the margin of error is 4.2 percent, the race is essentially tied. That, and the fact that the poll was taken before Romney announced his pick of U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate.
But if you take a measure of net favorability – which is the difference between those having a favorable opinion of the candidate and those having a negative opinion – Obama is viewed less favorably than Romney.
The president’s net favorability is -19 percent, while Romney’s is -14 percent.
Both have work to do to buttress their favorability – and therefore their electability among independents – Obama more so than Romney.
Romney and Ryan are scheduled to visit the state on Monday.
In the race for governor to succeed outgoing Democrat John Lynch, all the candidates suffer from a lack of recognition, according to the poll, even this late in the campaign with the statewide primary only a few weeks away.
Again, the net favorability among undeclared voters leans toward one of the Republican candidates for governor: Ovide Lamontagne. His net favorability within that group was the highest among the field that includes fellow Republican Kevin Smith and Democrats Maggie Hassan, Jackie Cilley and Bill Kennedy.
Here’s how their net favorability broke down:
- Lamontagne +13 percent
- Smith +4 percent
- Hassan +4 percent
- Cilley +6 percent
- Kennedy +1 percent
In the race for Congress, it looks like we’re headed for a rematch of the 2008 election.
In the 1st Congressional District, Carol Shea-Porter will try to wrestle the House seat she held back from Republican Frank Guinta who beat her two years ago. So far, in a head-to-head matchup, she’s beating Guinta 45 to 43 percent, another statistical dead heat.
But Guinta has a net favorability among undeclared voters of +28 percent while Shea-Porter’s rating was +19 percent.
In the 2nd Congressional District, Republican incumbent Charlie Bass and Democratic challenger Ann McLane Kuster are also poised for a rematch. Bass leads Kuster in the head-to-head 42 to 37 percent.
Bass is also ahead in the net favorability category among the undeclared voters, +15 percent to +9 percent for Kuster.
Paul Briand is an editor for the Live Free or Die Alliance, a non-profit, non-partisan organization that encourages the analysis and discussion of politics and policies in New Hampshire.