With swing state polling really tightening up the State of New Hampshire could really be a major factor in the 2012 Presidential election. As with the Bush-Gore election New Hampshire and its four electoral votes could make the difference between winning and losing for Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.
New Hampshire was once a reliably Republican state in national elections. Starting in 1968 the state went Republican 6 straight times, voting for Nixon in that year and in 1972, Gerald Ford in 1976, Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984, and George H.W. Bush in 1988. President Bill Clinton broke the streak, and New Hampshire voted for the Big Dog in 1992, and 1996, and a Democratic resurgence in the Granite State was started. But Al Gore took the pipe in 2000, losing to President George W. Bush narrowly, with the margin of victory being provided by the independent candidacy of Ralph Nader, who got 3.9% of the vote, tipping the state to Bush. (Bush 48.1%, Gore 46.8%). John Kerry carried the state in 2004, and Barack Obama in 2008.
Despite the gains made in the state by Democrats New Hampshire saw a Republican surge in 2010, with Republicans taking control of both Houses of the State Legislature by wide margins. It was a rout. So the State could not, in my estimation, be colored blue nationally. Republicans continue to show that they can win in this state.
Paleologos is showing that division in this poll, with Barack Obama and Mitt Romney tied at 47%, with 4% undecided. Independent candidate Gary Johnson is at 2%, occupying valuable real estate in a race this close. Paleologos took a measure of what some Johnson voters (and some undecided)would do if they could only vote for Obama or Romney. From the Suffolk Press release.
When a subset of 30 undecided and Gary Johnson respondents were given the choice between Romney or Obama only, Romney led 47 percent to 13 percent, with 40 percent remaining undecided.
“Politics is full of ironies. Gary Johnson voters are predisposed to voting against the incumbent president, but Johnson’s presence on the New Hampshire presidential ballot is actually helping Obama,” said Paleologos. “Those anti-incumbent voters – at least right now – aren’t finding their way to Mitt Romney.”
Ouch! Roger Stone of the Johnson campaign will be delighted to be tormenting Mitt Romney in such a potentially critical way.
Romney has narrowed the gender gap in this poll, with Obama leading with women by a 50% to 46% margin. Obama trails with men by a 49% to 43% margin. In terms of geography Romney leads Obama in the two largest New Hampshire counties, Hillsborough by a 46% to 43% margin, and Rockingham County by a 54% to 43% margin. Obama leads in the eight combined smaller counties by a 51% to 45% margin. Obviously Romney will be trying to drive turnout in those two large counties.
Barack Obama has a job performance rating of 47%, with 47% disapproving. His favorability, usually higher than his job performance numbers, stands at 50%, with 44% unfavorable. Romney stands at 48% favorable, and 46% unfavorable.
This is a jump ball, with field work critical for each side. Gary Johnson looks a little bit like Ralph Nader did in 2000, and could tip this race towards President Obama.
In the race for Governor Maggie Hassan (41%) holds a slight lead on Republican Ovide Lamontagne (38%), with Libertarian John Babiarz getting a critical 4% of the vote. It is another case of the third party candidate having a chance to change the course of this election. There is still a large bloc of undecided in this race at 16%, which means it is still wide open, and will bring some big spending by both candidates down the stretch.
Some interesting tidbits from the issue polling. On the ballot question to ban an income tax by constitutional amendment 41% were in favor, 39% opposed, and 19% undecided. That is a shocker to me, as opposition to a personal income tax has been a staple of New Hampshire politics for decades. The survey also asked about whether a sales tax should be instituted. 74% opposed that idea, with 16% in favor, and 10% undecided. Now that is not shocking.
Another key poll, with some great data, from David Paleologos and Suffolk.