N.H. Races for U.S. Senate, Governor Too Close to Call

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By Christine Gillette, 978-934-2209 (w), 978-758-4664 (c)

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is leading Republican Donald Trump in the race to capture New Hampshire’s important four electoral votes, according to a new UMass Lowell/7News poll released today.

The independent, nonpartisan poll by the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion found that 45 percent of likely voters support Clinton compared with 39 percent who say they will vote for Trump. Libertarian Gary Johnson had the support of 9 percent of likely voters and Green Party candidate Jill Stein garnered 2 percent. Only 4 percent of voters reported being undecided and the majority of those who support Clinton (85 percent) and Trump (79 percent) say they will not change their minds before Election Day. 

As the election draws closer, New Hampshire is again emerging as a swing state critical to either candidate reaching the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency. 

“If there is any doubt how important the results in New Hampshire can be in a presidential election, ask Al Gore about 2000. If he had carried New Hampshire, he would have been president,” said Prof. Frank Talty, co-director of the Center for Public Opinion and assistant dean of UMass Lowell’s College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. “The results on Nov. 8 in New Hampshire could determine not only the outcome of the presidential election, but also control of the U.S. Senate. The Granite State is that important.”  

The survey – conducted from Oct. 7 through Oct. 11 via live telephone interviews with 654 New Hampshire registered voters and a subset of 517 likely voters – has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.35 percent for registered voters and 4.87 percent for likely voters. New Hampshire is home to approximately 10,000 UMass Lowell graduates, 2,000 students and 400 employees. 

Three days of polling were conducted after news surfaced last week about the controversial statements by Trump in a 2005 recorded conversation with Billy Bush during a taping of “Access Hollywood.” The results of polling after the recording was made public found that New Hampshire voters surveyed were widely aware of it: 62 percent of likely voters said they had listened to the audio and an additional 21 percent of likely voters stated that they had “heard a lot about the conversation” between Trump and Bush. Nearly a third of those aware of the recording (30 percent) said that it made them less likely to vote for Trump, 1 percent said it made them more likely to vote for Trump and 66 percent, the vast majority, said it made no difference to them. More women (37 percent) than men (22 percent) reported the recording would make them less likely to vote for Trump. Only 7 percent of Republicans surveyed said they are less likely to vote for Trump after becoming aware of his recorded comments about women.

Women voters are bolstering Clinton’s lead in New Hampshire, with 52 percent supporting her compared to 33 percent who support Trump. Forty-six percent of male voters surveyed said they support Trump, compared to 37 percent who support Clinton. Clinton also appears to have closed what had been a bitter divide with supporters of Bernie Sanders, who defeated her in the New Hampshire primary, as she now has the support of 88 percent of voters polled who identify with the Democratic Party. Among those who identify with the Republican Party, 77 percent of voters said they support Trump and 11 percent said they plan to vote for Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, compared with only 2 percent of Democrats. 

In both candidates’ cases, more likely voters have a negative view of them than favorable. Thirty-two percent of likely voters polled said they view Trump favorably compared with 63 percent who view him unfavorably and 55 percent of likely voters have a negative view of Clinton compared with 42 percent who have a favorable opinion. Only 33 percent of New Hampshire voters said they consider either candidate as honest and trustworthy, but Clinton has the edge over Trump when it comes to voters’ opinions on who has the “necessary qualifications to be president,” with 61 percent who said Clinton is qualified compared to 34 percent who said Trump has the qualifications. When it comes to the temperament necessary to be president, something both candidates have raised during the campaign, only 28 percent of voters said Trump has the necessary temperament compared to 64 percent who said Clinton does.

“Neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump are well-liked presidential candidates. Only a third of voters view either as honest and trustworthy, but Clinton is viewed by large majorities of New Hampshire voters as qualified and temperamentally fit to serve as commander-in-chief,” said Prof. Joshua Dyck, co-director of the Center for Public Opinion, who wrote and analyzed the poll. “Trump, on the other hand, is viewed by large majorities as unqualified and not temperamentally fit. In perhaps the strangest and most negative presidential campaign ever, this, ultimately, helps us to explain why Clinton leads by six points among Granite State voters.”

Ayotte & Hassan Within Single Percent

The races for U.S. Senate and governor in New Hampshire are too close to call, according to the UMass Lowell/7News poll. Just one percentage point separates incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte from her Democratic challenger Maggie Hassan in a contest that could shift the balance of power in the Senate. Ayotte has the support of 45 percent of likely voters while Hassan has 44 percent and Libertarian Brian Chabot has 4 percent. The majority of those polled – 87 percent of Hassan voters and 85 percent of Ayotte voters – describe their choice in candidates as “definite” and only 6 percent of voters said they are still undecided. The support for candidates largely follows party lines, with 84 percent of Republicans in favor of Ayotte and 88 percent of Democrats for Hassan, but Ayotte is doing better among independents.

Governor's Race Has Highest Percentage of Undecided Voters

In the race to replace Hassan as governor, Republican Chris Sununu is just two percentage points ahead of Democrat Colin Van Ostern, 41 percent to 39 percent. Libertarian Max Abramson has the support of 6 percent of likely voters. Fourteen percent of likely voters said they are still undecided and a quarter of those who support Sununu said they could still change their minds compared to only 11 percent of Van Ostern’s supporters. With more voters undecided about their choice in this race, the final outcome could be decided by any national-level trends in the final days leading up to the election.

Other findings from the poll include:

  • In an election year when Democrats could be put in control of the White House for a third straight term, only 31 percent of likely voters say that the country is headed in the right direction, compared to 61 percent who say the country is on the wrong course. Sixty percent of Democrats chose “right direction” compared with 15 percent of independents and 6 percent of Republicans.
  • Eighty-nine percent of Republicans polled expressed distrust in the federal government compared to 50 percent of Democrats.
  • Clinton is leading among voters younger than 29 and older than 50 while Trump leads by a 2-to-1 margin (50 to 24 percent) in the 40 to 49 age group.
  • Clinton is also leading Trump among voters who earn more than $100,000 (48 percent to 41 percent) and less than $50,000 (47 percent to 32 percent) annually and the candidates are nearly even among those who earn between $50,000 and $100,000 with 45 percent favoring Clinton to 43 percent who prefer Trump.

Results of the UMass Lowell/7News poll are based on interviews with a random sample of 654 New Hampshire registered voters and a subset of 517 likely voters conducted via landline and cellular telephones Oct. 7 through Oct. 11. The survey was conducted via live interviews using an overlapping, dual-frame landline and cellphone random-digit dial (RDD) design. Final results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies based on the 2015 American Community Survey. The margin of error for registered voters is plus or minus 4.35 percent and plus or minus 4.87 percent for likely voters. More information on the poll methodology, as well as detailed polling data, is available at www.uml.edu/polls.

UMass Lowell is a national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its more than 17,500 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, vigorous hands-on learning and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be ready for work, for life and for all the world offers.