Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

New Hampshire Consistent in its Inconsistency

In House, Polling, Senate on February 5, 2014 at 11:06 am

No state has had more wild political swings than the Granite State of New Hampshire during the past four elections. Over that time, NH voters have turned out a US senator, defeated more members than they have re-elected, and deposed the majority party in five of the past 10 legislative chamber elections. A new early 2014 poll suggests that more upheaval is on the way.

The University of New Hampshire’s polling directors just released a survey completed during the Jan. 21-26 period in which 584 registered Granite State voters were questioned. A total of 304 respondents were in the eastern 1st Congressional District; 280 in the western 2nd CD. As has been the pattern with UNH polls, bizarre results are often produced that many times prove inconsistent with the findings of other pollsters and even their own previous data.

The Senate

The first bit of inconsistency in their latest poll comes in the Senate race. UNH finds that Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) has a 47-37 percent ballot test lead against former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R). Though this is not yet an official race because Brown has not fully decided whether or not he will run, several January polls have queried the hypothetical campaign.

The UNH result is immediately at odds with two other surveys, the first from Public Policy Polling (Jan. 9-12; 1,354 registered New Hampshire voters) that produced a 46-43 percent reading in Sen. Shaheen’s favor, and the second from the Purple Strategies consulting firm (Jan. 21-23; 1,052 registered New Hampshire voters), which found the two political heavyweights locked in a 44-44 percent tie.

NH-1

But their more eye-opening data comes in the state’s two US House campaigns. In the 1st District, Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D) and former Rep. Frank Guinta (R) have done battle twice before with each person winning one time. Guinta ousted then-Rep. Shea-Porter in 2010, and then the current congresswoman returned the favor in 2012.

Despite UNH finding a personal favorability index of 39:32 percent positive to negative in Shea-Porter’s favor, the representative trails Republican Guinta by a rather substantial 45-39 percent. This conclusion is radically different from their own October survey that staked the congresswoman to a strong 48-32 percent advantage. Against Republican Dan Innis, who is a former UNH business professor, Shea-Porter leads 43-33 percent.

NH-2

In the more Democratic 2nd District, freshman Rep. Annie Kuster (D) stands for her first re-election. She is drawing Republican opposition from former state Sen. Gary Lambert and state Rep. Marilinda Garcia. Here, the UNH data again takes a strange turn. While projecting the incumbent’s favorability index to be upside down, they simultaneously stake her to leads against both Republican opponents.

According to the personal favorability question, Kuster scores only a 30:32 percent positive to negative ratio. Yet, when paired with former Sen. Lambert, her ballot test standing improves when compared to the October UNH results, a complete opposite trend to what was found in the Shea-Porter 1st District.

The current results portend Rep. Kuster gaining a 38-34 percent margin against Lambert, a five-point swing in her favor when overlaying the October UNH figures. At that time, the congresswoman was trailing the former state senator by one point, 33-34 percent. Against Garcia, who was not tested in October because she was not then a congressional candidate, Kuster’s lead expands to 36-30 percent.

Conclusions

Though we once again find the University of New Hampshire polling data to appear shaky and failing to mesh with other available data, we can believe that the state’s electorate is once again volatile. Considering that this state has swung like no other since 2006, it is reasonable to believe that close results are again on the horizon in all New Hampshire 2014 campaigns. In the past eight years no Granite State incumbent has been politically safe, and it appears that none can be considered so today.

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