New Poll by Saint Anselm College Survey Center finds significant erosion in job approval for President Biden in New Hampshire

August 31, 2021

By Ann Camann

A new poll conducted by the Saint Anselm College Survey Center (SACSC) at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics (NHIOP) finds President Joe Biden’s job approval collapsing in New Hampshire, putting Democratic incumbents in jeopardy. From an 8-point net approval in February, Biden’s job approval has inverted and now sits at 44%-55%, slightly worse than Donald Trump (45%-55%) in our pre-election poll last fall; 49% of voters strongly disapprove of his performance.

New Hampshire Institute of Politics Executive Director Neil Levesque stated, “Biden’s job approval has steadily declined since he took office in response to several challenges. In this poll, he is bearing the responsibility for the current situation in Afghanistan (44%) more than his predecessors (Bush 27%, Trump 13%, and Obama 4%). This is energizing Republicans: 43% of voters are more inclined to vote for Republican candidates in next year’s election based on Biden’s handling of the situation, versus 14% that are more inclined to vote for Democratic candidates. This polarization is driving a voter intensity disparity benefitting Republicans: 97% of Republican voters disapprove of Biden’s performance versus only 85% of Democratic voters that approve. 92% of Republican voters would vote for a congressional candidate from their party today versus only 86% of Democratic voters who would vote for a candidate from their party.”

62% of voters now think that the country is on the wrong track, up from 55% in February, while only 28% think we’re on the right track. Most ominous for New Hampshire’s all-Democratic congressional delegation, the generic congressional ballot has swung to the Republicans (46%-43%) for the first time in the history of this poll.

Senator Maggie Hassan’s job approval has improved slightly since our last poll, but is still at a net 4-point negative at 44%-48%. Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s approval has also slightly improved with a net 2-point positive at 48%-46%.  Congressman Chris Pappas is even at 42%-42%, and Congresswoman Annie Kuster is at a net 1-point positive at 43%-42%. These represent the lowest net approval for both Representatives in the history of this poll.

Governor Chris Sununu’s net job approval is beginning to narrow in this polarized environment, perhaps as Democratic voters begin to evaluate him as a potential challenger to Senator Hassan. From a net 45-point advantage in our pre-election poll last fall, Sununu now sits at a 30-point positive approval at 64%-34%.

In a hypothetical U.S. Senate matchup against Hassan, Sununu currently enjoys a 49%-40% lead, up from 47%-41% in March. This margin is driven by the intensity disparity noted above: Sununu leads among Republican voters 89%-2%, while Democratic voters are a bit less intense for Hassan at 83%-11%; undeclared voters favor Sununu 50%-34%. It’s worth noting that while males favor Sununu by a wide 55%-34% margin, he trails Hassan among women by only 2 points, 44%-46%.

“The 2022 cycle is shaping up to be quite dynamic as political cross-currents on issues from Afghanistan to inflation, government spending, COVID, and energy policy present serious challenges for incumbents to negotiate. Control of Congress is at stake, and the races here in New Hampshire may play as important a role in determining who wields the gavel in both chambers as any state,” Levesque concluded.

Full Results (PDF/ 759KB)

Results are from the Saint Anselm College Survey Center poll based on online surveys of 1855 New Hampshire registered voters. Surveys were collected between August 24th and 26th, 2021, from cell phone users randomly drawn from a sample of registered voters reflecting the demographic and partisan characteristics of the voting population. Names were presented in random order for the job approval series and the Senate ballot test.

The survey has an overall margin of sampling error of +/- 2.3% with a confidence interval of 95%; the margin of sampling error for questions specific to congressional districts are 3.1% for the 1st Congressional District and 3.3% for the 2nd Congressional District. 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.