New Poll by Saint Anselm College Survey Center shows a deteriorating political environment holding down job approval for incumbent officeholders.

January 19, 2022

By Ann Camann

A new poll conducted by the Saint Anselm College Survey Center (SACSC) at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics (NHIOP) finds the political environment deteriorating for incumbent officeholders. 74% of New Hampshire registered voters now believe the country is on the wrong track, versus only 16% that believe it is headed in the right direction.

President Joe Biden has slipped to a 41%-58% job approval, while Governor Chris Sununu now sits at 53%-44%; these are overall lows for both. President Biden’s job approval mirrors his handling of the economy, with 58% of voters disapproving of the job Biden has done on the economy, which is the top issue for 22% of voters.

62% of voters approve of the job Sununu has done on COVID, while only 40% approve of the job Biden has done.
45% believe Governor Sununu has done a good enough job to deserve re-election, while 45% believe it is time to give someone new a chance. This question is asked without a hypothetical matchup, and the re-elect number is generally an indication of an incumbent’s floor of support.

The federal delegation job approval numbers show Senator Jeanne Shaheen at 48%-48%, Senator Maggie Hassan at 45%-51%, Congressman Chris Pappas at 43%-47%, and Congresswoman Annie Kuster at 41%-49%. Low incumbent job approval among the delegation is driving a favorable generic ballot for Republicans. Republicans now hold a 6-point lead at 46%-40%, the largest Republican advantage in the history of this poll.

Only 38% of 1st Congressional District voters believe that Pappas has done a good enough job to deserve re-election, while only 33% of 2nd Congressional District voters believe that Kuster deserves re-election.  New Hampshire Institute of Politics Executive Director Neil Levesque stated, “These are low floors of incumbent support that indicate the potential for close races against credible challengers, with the caveat that new districts have yet to be adopted.”

Potential challengers to Senator Maggie Hassan are not well known. 2020 primary candidate Don Bolduc is best known with 67% name recognition, with 46% of voters having an opinion of him. New Hampshire Senate President Chuck Morse has 53% name recognition, with 30% of voters having an opinion. Least known is Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith, who has 41% name recognition, with only 17% of voters having an opinion.

Levesque summarized, “Senator Hassan’s low-40’s ballot strength points to a tight race as challenger name recognition increases.  She will need to convince voters that are currently skeptical of her party to give her a second Senate term.  Nonetheless, the eventual Republican nominee has a lot of work to do to build up recognition as a credible alternative to the experienced Hassan.”

Full Results (PDF)

Results are from the Saint Anselm College Survey Center poll based on online surveys of 1215 New Hampshire registered voters. Surveys were collected between Jan 11-12, 2022 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 +/- 2.8% with a confidence interval of 95%; the margin of sampling error for questions specific to congressional districts are 3.9% for the 1st Congressional District and 4.1% 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.