Latest Poll Shows Voter Attitudes on the Presidential Primary

February 12, 2019

By Alexis Soucy

February Poll by New Hampshire’s Top Survey Center Shows Early Presidential Primary Favorites

  • Biden most favorable among Democratic voters at 80%
  • 77% of Republican voters encourage President Trump to run for reelection
  • Sanders and Warren favorable at 65% and 60% respectively, but also ranked two of the most unfavorable
  • First-time candidates Booker and Harris already well-known and well-liked
  • 84% of Democratic voters do not believe Donald Trump will be reelected
  • Governor Sununu's job approval 70% among all voters

The latest poll by the Saint Anselm College Survey Center at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics (NHIOP) shows name recognition of announced and potential Democratic presidential candidates, as well as Republican voter attitudes ahead of the 2020 presidential primary and favorability of elected officials.

The poll of 600 randomly-selected registered New Hampshire voters was conducted by landline and cellular phone between February 6 and February 9, 2019. Democratic respondents were asked if they had a favorable impression, unfavorable impression, or no opinion of each person. They were told to let the caller know if they had not heard of that candidate. The names were presented in random order. 

Of the 14 names on the list, Joe Biden proved the most favorable at 80%.

“He is very well-known and very well-liked,” NHIOP Executive Director Neil Levesque said of Biden. “Whether or not he gets into this race is a huge factor.”

Following Biden are Bernie Sanders at 65%, Kamala Harris at 63%, Cory Booker at 61%, and Elizabeth Warren at 60%. 

Sanders and Warren join Biden in being almost universally recognized, but carried two of the highest unfavorable impressions from respondents aside from that of potential candidate Michael Bloomberg. Sanders also has yet to specify his 2020 plans.

First-time candidates Harris and Booker, on the other hand, are already very well-known and very well-liked by New Hampshire voters, without the unfavorable baggage attached to Sanders and Warren.

Another wild card in the race is Beto O’Rourke, who was favorable among 52% of respondents. 

“Less well-known are announced candidates Julian Castro, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Amy Klobuchar, all of whom have a solid base of favorable opinion to build on,” added Levesque. “Rounding out the field at this time are John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, and Pete Buttigieg.”

84% of Democrats surveyed do not believe President Trump will be reelected, meaning that many of them will be more likely to choose a candidate in the Democratic primary who has the same positions as they do, rather than someone who they believe can beat the President.

Democrats are most supportive of candidates that endorse the Green New Deal (89% more likely), followed by Medicare for All (83%), regulating big banks and Wall Street (83%), a tax on ultra-wealthy (77%), and free tuition for higher education (58%).

“It is no accident that the popular candidates in this race have embraced emerging progressive themes; that’s where the voters are and that’s what they want to send against Trump,” Levesque said.

On the Republican side, 71% of those surveyed believe President Trump will be reelected. In addition, 81% of Republicans have a favorable impression of the President.

“There is some concern about Trump as reflected in 51% of Republican primary voters’ willingness to consider a primary challenger,” continued Levesque. “However, only 26% of those voters actually have a specific potential primary challenger in mind.”

“Overall, this is shaping up to be a very interesting election cycle, with a lot at stake, a lot of voter interest, and talented candidates from a lot of different backgrounds," Levesque said.

In addition, respondents were asked to share their impressions and job approval of New Hampshire's congressional delegation and Governor Sununu.

"Governor Chris Sununu is currently the most popular politician in the state, with 64% of voters reporting a favorable impression of him," stated Levesque. "Sununu has a 70% job approval, followed by Shaheen at 60% and Hassan at 55%. Pappas sits at 49%, while Kuster continues to build on her growth over the last year and is now at just over 50%."

"The popularity of both Sununu and Shaheen as the senior member of the Congressional delegation suggests that New Hampshire is still very much a swing state where quality of candidates and campaigns can determine the outcome of races," he concluded.

The overall survey has a margin of sampling error of 4.0% with a confidence interval of 95%. The margin of sampling error on questions specific to the 1st and 2nd Congressional Districts is 5.8% and 5.6% respectively.