Gubernatorial and Congressional Races Take Shape in Latest Poll

October 19, 2018

By Alexis Soucy

New Hampshire’s Gubernatorial and Congressional Races Take Shape in Saint Anselm College Survey Center’s October Poll, Less Than Three Weeks from Election Day

  • Incumbent Chris Sununu Holds 49%-39% Edge Over Challenger Molly Kelly
  • Democrat Chris Pappas Sees a 44%-36% Margin Over Republican Eddie Edwards in First Congressional District
  • Incumbent Annie Kuster Leads Republican Steve Negron 49%-22% in Second Congressional District
  • Early Presidential Primary Preferences Include Elizabeth Warren, John Kasich, Joe Biden

The latest poll from the Saint Anselm College Survey Center at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics (NHIOP) shows where candidates for governor and the U.S. House stand among registered New Hampshire voters with less than three weeks to go until midterm elections.

The poll of 454 randomly-selected voters was conducted by landline and cellular phone between October 10 and October 15, 2018. Respondents were asked their current preferences in the races for governor and Congress, their impressions of elected officials and candidates, and questions regarding their likelihood to vote. Voters identifying as Republican or Democratic were also surveyed on early preferences in the 2020 presidential primary.

Incumbent Chris Sununu’s job approval stands at nearly 62% among all respondents, and he’s preferred 49%-39% over challenger Molly Kelly in the race for governor. Sununu leads among Republican voters 88%-4%, while Kelly’s strength from Democrats is 80%-10%. Libertarian candidate Jilletta Jarvis is preferred by .9%, and 12% of those surveyed are still undecided.

“This race will likely tighten as Kelly picks up uncommitted Democrats and Independents down the stretch,” said NHIOP Executive Director Neil Levesque.

Democrat Chris Pappas holds a 44%-36% lead over Republican Eddie Edwards in the First Congressional District. In addition, 51% of voters have a positive impression of Pappas while 32% view Edwards positively and 43% have no opinion of him. Libertarian candidate Dan Belforti is preferred by .9%, and 19% of all voters in this swing district are still undecided.

“Only 68% of Republican voters expressed a preference for their party’s nominee, so Edwards has room in this competitive district to close the gap in the final weeks,” added Levesque.

Incumbent Annie Kuster leads her challenger, Republican Steve Negron, by a margin of 49%-22% in the Second Congressional District. Kuster is seen favorably by 52% of respondents and her job approval is at 50%, up 6.5% from the Saint Anselm College Survey Center’s April poll. Over 70% of voters in the district have no opinion of Negron and nearly 2% of respondents prefer Libertarian candidate Justin O’Donnell. A quarter of the district is still undecided, including 37% of Republicans.

“Negron will cut significantly into this margin as he becomes better known among Republican and Independent voters,” Levesque shared. “However, Kuster is as popular among her constituents as she has been at any point in her career and will be tough to beat in this Democratic-leaning district.”

Voters are highly motivated to vote on Election Day. 90% are extremely likely to vote, and another 7% are very likely. 74% of voters on both sides of the aisle report being more likely to vote in the midterms because of President Donald Trump. The confirmation process of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh has made Republicans somewhat more motivated to vote than Democrats, 65% to 58%. 

New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary voters were also asked of any early 2020 favorites. Senator Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden received the most mentions among Democratic voters, although 74% have no early favorite. Only 30% of Republican voters would support a primary challenger of President Trump at this point, and Governor John Kasich was most mentioned by the 11% of voters with an early favorite. Kasich was also the only candidate to draw any early crossovers, mentioned four times by Democrats.

“New Hampshire voters are not yet focused on the 2020 presidential primary,” Levesque concluded.

The overall survey has a margin of sampling error of 4.6% with a confidence interval of 95%; the margin of sampling error on questions specific to the First and Second Congressional Districts is 6.5% and 6.6%, respectively.