New NH poll: Biden leads Trump by 10 points

Shaheen, Sununu ahead of challengers in Senate, governor races

Former Vice President Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump by 10 points among likely New Hampshire voters, according to a new poll released today by the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion.

Biden has extended his lead over Trump in the contest for New Hampshire’s four electoral votes in a new swing state poll of likely New Hampshire voters by the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion. New Hampshire was hotly contested in 2016 with Hillary Clinton besting Trump by fewer than 3,000 total votes, a margin of less than one half of 1 percent.

The independent, nonpartisan poll released today found that Biden leads with 53 percent of likely voters compared to 43 percent for Trump, followed by 3 percent for third-party candidates. Only 2 percent of likely voters say they are undecided. In a Sept. 29 poll by the center, Biden led Trump by 8 points. For details on how the candidates are performing with voters by age, gender, party and education, see http://www.uml.edu/polls.

While New Hampshire does not have early in-person voting, due to the pandemic, Granite State voters were allowed to request a no-fault absentee ballot, and the turnout in the state has already reached 24 percent of the 2016 total. In 2016, by contrast, absentee ballots made up just 3 percent of the total ballots cast in New Hampshire, according to the United States Election Project. In the center’s survey, 24 percent of respondents reported that they had already voted. Among those who have voted, Biden leads Trump by a large margin, 80 percent to 19 percent.

While Trump trails Biden, his approval rating is 44 percent, almost equivalent with vote percentage in the head-to-head with Biden. While many voters who had a negative view of Trump in 2016 ended up ultimately supporting him, the fact that his vote total tracks so closely with his approval rating shows that when opinions about Trump are negative, they are very negative. Among the 56 percent who disapprove of Trump, 48 percent said they strongly disapprove.

“Trump’s big problem in 2020 is that he can’t run on what he is going to do, but has to run on what he has done. Voters are no longer willing to give him the benefit of the doubt,” said Joshua Dyck, director of the Center for Public Opinion and associate professor of political science.

With the two presidential debates in the books, a plurality of New Hampshire likely voters believe that Biden was the winner of the first debate, but Trump did significantly better at the second debate. On the first debate, Biden was given the nod by 46 percent of voters compared to 31 percent for Trump; another 14 percent said the debate was a draw and 9 percent were unsure. On the second debate, 40 percent gave Trump the win, 34 percent gave Biden the win, 19 percent said it was a draw and 7 percent said they were unsure.

The 2020 election has been a remarkably stable election, but it is unique because it has been overtaken by one issue more than any other, the reality of the coronavirus pandemic. On this issue, Trump has struggled, and the poll indicates that the issue of COVID-19 is why the president has gone from barely losing New Hampshire in 2016 to trailing by double digits with less than a week to go in the campaign.

Asked how satisfied they are with the federal government’s response to COVID-19, 58 percent of New Hampshire likely voters say they are unsatisfied, compared to 42 percent who are satisfied. Asked who is better suited to handle the pandemic, likely voters give the edge to Biden, 53 percent to 38 percent for Trump. On the question of whether it is safe to re-open schools, 54 percent of New Hampshire likely voters say that it is either probably (34 percent) or definitely (20 percent) not safe to reopen local public schools for face-to-face instruction. When asked if Trump could have avoided contracting COVID-19 by wearing a mask more often, 72 percent of likely voters said yes, while 27 percent said no.

“Granite State voters, who overwhelming side with the science of the virus and the scientists fighting it, are punishing the president for the surge in cases there,” said John Cluverius, associate director of the Center for Public Opinion and assistant professor of political science.

In the races for U.S. Senate and governor, the two incumbents continue to lead their challengers.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is ahead of Republican Corky Messner, by 19 points, 57 percent to 38 percent with 1 percent saying they will vote for another candidate and 4 percent still undecided. In the center’s Sept. 29 poll, Shaheen led by an equivalent margin, 19 points, 56 percent to 37 percent. Shaheen continues to win the support of an impressive 97 percent of Democrats, but also 48 percent of independents and 16 percent of Republicans.

Meanwhile, incumbent Republican Gov. Chris Sununu leads Democrat Dan Feltes by 23 points, 59 percent to 36 percent, with 1 percent saying they will vote for another candidate and 4 percent saying they are undecided. Sununu’s lead is down 3 points from the Sept. 29 UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion poll that had him ahead by 26 points, 60 percent to 34 percent. Still, Sununu wins the support of 92 percent of Republicans, but also 69 percent of independents and 24 percent of Democrats.

The poll of likely New Hampshire voters also found:

  • Asked who they think will win the 2020 presidential election, Granite State likely voters give Biden the edge: 44 percent say Biden will win and 41 percent say Trump will win. Biden led on this same question by 5 points in the Sept. 29 poll. Voters continue to view the race as competitive, even in the face of Biden’s growing lead in state and national polling;

  • When the question is who will best handle the economy, Trump beats Biden 48 percent to 45 percent;

  • The Trump campaign has made a concerted effort to pin to Biden the label of a “corrupt politician,” tying him to his son’s alleged activities in the Ukraine. Has it worked? Head to head, the center’s poll asked likely voters about the candidates on a number of dimensions. On the question of “who is more corrupt?” 54 percent say Trump and 35 percent say Biden, with 8 percent saying they are about equal, and 3 percent unsure.

The nonpartisan poll of 757 likely New Hampshire voters was independently funded by the University of Massachusetts Lowell, which has more than 13,000 students, alumni and employees from the Granite State. The Center for Public Opinion presents events and polling on political and social issues to provide opportunities for civic engagement, experiential learning and real-world research.

The survey was designed and analyzed by the Center for Public Opinion and fielded by YouGov from Oct. 16 through Oct. 26. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percent. Detailed poll results – including topline and full methodology – are available at http://www.uml.edu/polls.

In addition to the survey of likely voters in New Hampshire, the Center for Public Opinion also released polls in two other states today. The findings include:

  • In North Carolina, Trump and Biden are tied with 48 percent support of likely voters. In the race for U.S. Senate, Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham leads Republican incumbent Thom Tillis 49 percent to 45 percent. Incumbent Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper leads Republican challenger Dan Forest 54 percent to 42 percent. (Poll of 911 likely North Carolina voters conducted Oct. 20 through Oct. 26 with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percent.)

  • In Texas, Trump is nearly even with Biden, with the support of 48 percent of likely voters compared to 47 percent who favor Biden. The difference is within the plus or minus 4.2 percent margin of error for the poll and Trump’s lead is down from 3 points from the Sept. 29 poll by the center. (Poll of 873 likely Texas voters conducted Oct. 20 through Oct. 26 with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percent.)

UMass Lowell is a national research university offering its more than 18,000 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be leaders in their communities and around the globe. http://www.uml.edu

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