June Poll by Saint Anselm College Survey Center Reveals Pessimism and Polarization 

June 18, 2020

By Ann Camann

The June poll by the Saint Anselm College Survey Center at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics (NHIOP) reveals voter attitudes about our elected officials, racial tensions in America, the easing of restrictions implemented to curb the spread of COVID-19 as well as a preliminary look at primary races to select challengers for the fall general election. 

  • 72% of respondents now say that they believe our country is headed in the wrong direction; 
  • All members of the Congressional delegation have seen their job approval steadily erode since the beginning of 2019, leaving Senator Shaheen at 52% approval, Senator Hassan at 49%, Congressman Pappas at 47%, and Congresswoman Kuster at 45%; 
  • Governor Chris Sununu 77% job approval; only the very liberal, at 47%-50%, disapprove of Sununu’s performance; 
  • Democrats do have three structural advantages that will help counterbalance the poor environment: enthusiasm, as 92% of Democrats are extremely interested in the election to 86% of Republicans; a 46%-43% lead in the generic congressional ballot; and a putative nominee, Joe Biden, that leads Trump in the presidential ballot, 49%-42%; 
  • 86% of Democrats believe that racial and ethnic discrimination is a major issue in our country, 57% of Republicans believe it is a minor or no issue; 
  • 45% of Republicans expect to return to their normal everyday routines quickly; only 5% of Democrats agree, and 34% expect never to return their previous routines. 

 

Full Results (PDF/366KB) 
 

New Hampshire Institute of Politics Executive Director Neil Levesque summarized the results, saying, “The big winner in this poll is ‘Wrong Track,’ as an astonishing 72% of respondents now say that they believe our country is headed in the wrong direction. This is a perspective that cuts across party lines and demographics, with only very conservative voters holding a majority optimistic view. Beyond this pessimism, voters find little to agree on except for the performance of Governor Chris Sununu, whose handling of the COVID-19 crisis has earned him a 77% job approval. Only the very liberal, at 47%-50%, disapprove of Sununu’s performance.” 

While 86% of Democrats believe that racial and ethnic discrimination is a major issue in our country, 57% of Republicans believe it is a minor or no issue. 94% of Democrats believe that race relations have gotten worse since the election of President Trump; only 13% of Republicans agree. 

These partisan and ideological fissures apply to COVID-19 as well, as 51% of Democrats and 63% of the very liberal fear that restrictions to curtail spread of the virus are being lifted prematurely; 45% of Republicans and 53% of the very conservative believe the restrictions have been left in place too long. 

Levesque continues, “Unsurprisingly, this polarization and pessimism is impacting incumbent officeholders as primary races get underway. Like most of the country, New Hampshire is politically polarized and riven on the most talked-about issues of the moment. As the executive playing a highly-visible role in guiding our state through a major crisis, Governor Sununu has largely escaped the polarization; the rest of the races are likely to be highly contentious as we move past the conventions and the primaries into the general election season.” 

These results are from the Saint Anselm College Survey Center poll based on online surveys of 1072 New Hampshire registered voters expressing an interest in this fall’s elections for President, Governor, and Congress. Surveys were collected between June 13 and 16, 2020, from cell phone users randomly drawn from a sample of registered voters reflecting the demographic and partisan characteristics of the voting population. For questions in which respondents were asked to select from a list of options (e.g. presidential preference), choices were presented in random order. Names for each of the favorability, job approval, and name recognition series were presented in random order. 

The survey has an overall margin of sampling error of +/- 3.0% with a confidence interval of 95%; the margins of sampling error for questions specific to congressional districts or primary candidates are indicated in the marginal tables. The data are weighted for age, gender, geography, and education based on a voter demographic model derived from historical voting patterns, but are not weighted by party registration or party identification. 

Founded in 2001, the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College provides a nonpartisan forum for discussion and debate. It seeks to develop programming, and to foster scholarship and dialogue, encompassing a diverse range of political topics, opinions and issues. The Institute serves as a resource for students, scholars, politicians, and the general public.