October Poll by Saint Anselm College Survey Center

October 8, 2020

By Ann Camann

The October poll by the Saint Anselm College Survey Center at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics (NHIOP) shows momentum for Joe Biden with a double digit lead, and the first volatility in the presidential race. 

  • Biden now preferred by New Hampshire likely voters over Trump by a 12-point margin at 53%-41%; 
  • Biden’s increased lead has come from swing voters, who have gone from supporting Trump 43-31 to supporting him 44-24 since August; 
  • President Donald Trump Trump’s current image is at 42%-58% favorable, and his job approval is at 44%-56%, right in line with previous polls; 
  • Governor Sununu received high marks in previous polling for his COVID leadership, and now has a comfortable 23-point margin in voter preference over challenger Dan Feltes; 
  • Senator Jeanne Shaheen currently enjoys a preference margin over challenger Corky Messner of 15 points at 53%-38%; 
  • Newcomer Matt Mowers is within 8 points of Pappas at 49%-41% in voter preference in the CD1 race; 
  • Veteran Congresswoman Annie Kuster has seen her popularity erode to a narrow 46%-43% favorable image and a 47%-37% job approval. She nonetheless enjoys a significant 14-point preference advantage, at 52%-38%, in her rematch with Steve Negron in the CD2 race. 


Full Results (PDF/446.2KB)


New Hampshire Institute of Politics Executive Director Neil Levesque summarized the results, saying, “This is the first significant movement we’re seen in the presidential race so far. Biden’s lead has held steady at between 7 and 8 points, and this represents a 4-point improvement over August, when he held a 51%-43% lead.” 

This poll was conducted shortly after the presidential debate and while the news of Trump’s COVID diagnosis was breaking. However, neither of these events seems to have damaged Trump politically: his image and job approval have remained steady throughout the year in the low 40’s. 

Levesque continued: “What has changed is Biden’s image, which has improved from 49%-50% favorable in August to 53%-47% in this poll. With a net positive image in contrast to Trump’s net negative, Biden has begun to assemble enough support to move into a double-digit lead. Democratic and Republican support for their respective candidates has remained steady; Biden’s increased lead has come from swing voters, who have gone from supporting Trump 43%-31% to supporting him 44%-24% since August. 

Levesque concluded “This is the first real volatility we’ve seen in this race, and while it suggests that Biden has some momentum for now, swing voters can be prone to changing their minds. However, the challenge for Trump is that while Biden has virtually unanimous support among Democrats, only 87% of Republican voters are committed to their party’s nominee. This is a split that has held throughout our polling on this race. Trump will need to solidify his support among Republicans while bringing swing voters back if he is to close the gap over the coming weeks.” 

Results are from the Saint Anselm College Survey Center poll based on online surveys of 1147 New Hampshire voters likely to vote in this fall’s elections for President, Governor, and Congress. Surveys were collected between October 1st and 4th, 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 were presented in random order for each of the political figure and candidate series (e.g. candidate image). The survey has an overall margin of sampling error of +/- 2.9% with a confidence interval of 95%; the margins of sampling error for questions specific to congressional districts are 4.0% for District 1 and 4.2% for District 2. 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.