First look at Ayotte shows promise, but she’s also stuck in high 30s-low 40s range
John Sununu’s withdrawal from the New Hampshire Senate race made it all the more unclear who would emerge as the Republican nominee. That Kelly Ayotte would be the GOP’s best chance at defending Judd Gregg’s seat has become conventional wisdom, but the lack of any data on how voters view their unelected Attorney General made it difficult to figure out how strong she actually could be.
Well, we finally get to take our first look at Ayotte’s strength. The University of New Hampshire poll, conducted before Sununu’s announcement, included Ayotte and finds that she is the only Republican with a lead over probable Democratic nominee Rep. Paul Hodes:
- She is ahead 39% to 35%. By contrast, Hodes leads 43% to 41% against Sununu, 40% to 38% against former Rep. Charlie Bass and 45% to 25% against businessman Fred Tausch.
- Ayotte and Hodes have comparable levels of name recognition, but the Republican has a far stronger favorability rating: 47-7 compared to 32-23 for Hodes.
This poll demonstrates that Ayotte would come in the race with great potential. That she performs significantly better than two Republicans who long held federal office is a sign that she might not be encumbered by the party stain that could sink Sununu and Bass’s chances. On the other hand, Ayotte’s image is bound to change if she jumps in the race: While she was first appointed by a Republican, Democratic Governor John Lynch retained her services which helps her enjoy a nonpartisan image that would be hard to maintain as a party’s nominee in such a high-profile race.
Furthermore, what I find fascinating is that Ayotte receives less support than Sununu and only 1% more than Bass; it’s Hodes who is much weaker in a match-up against the Attorney General. As such, this poll does not resolve the most important question facing New Hampshire Republicans: Can they break out of the low 40s? Sununu was stuck in that range through more than 50 polls last year, and this poll offers the GOP no reassurance that Ayotte would be in any position to appeal beyond the party’s narrowing base.
In a related note, Hodes was one of the first Senate candidates nationwide to come public with his second quarter fundraising numbers: He announced having raised $750,000 over the past three months, bringing his 2009 total to over $1 million. That’s just a reminder that Hodes has been enjoying a good head start in raising money, hiring staff and mounting a campaign infrastructure. This is certainly not enough to guarantee him victory, but Republicans might want to recruit a candidate sooner rather than later - especially if that contender isn’t a well-known figure.
Mason Dixon revisits Florida, confirms GOP edge
In May, Mason Dixon gave us the first post-Crist poll. They are now out with a new survey that shows that Charlie Crist remains far ahead while Bill McCollum keeps a slight edge:
- In the Governor’s race, probable Democratic nominee Alex Sink trails McCollum 41% to 35% (the same margin as in May); in the unlikely case she were to face state Senator Paula Dockery, she is ahead 43% to 18%.
- In the Senate race, Charlie Crist crushes both Republican Marco Rubio (51% to 23%) and Democrat Kendrick Meek (48% to 26%).
- You can add to Mason Dixon’s Republican primary numbers a poll conducted for the Club for Growth, which finds Crist ahead of Rubio 51% to 21%.
The gubernatorial race is still marked by a large name recognition difference: 13% do not recognize McCollum, while 39% do not recognize Sink. This is not to say that Sink will necessarily gain an edge as she introduces herself to all voters, only that she’ll have McCollum’s small leads can be accounted to his superior notoriety and it will hard to read much into these polls until the notoriety gap closes. Two troubling signs for Sink, however, are that there are more Republicans who are undecided (25%) than there are Democrats (18%) and that McCollum gets a decent share of the Democratic vote.
As for the Senate race, there isn’t much else for Crist’s opponents to hold on than the fact that he has not quite cleared the 50% threshold, which at least makes it possible that Rubio or Meek could get in a more competitive position if they run a perfect campaign. For one thing, Rubio will need as much support as he can get to ensure that he remains relevant even if polls continue to show him trailing by such massive margins; South Carolina Senator John DeMint’s recent statement that prominent conservatives were preparing to back Rubio is a sign that things could still get interesting.
Christie might be under 50%, but Corzine is still under 40%
Let’s not call this new Farleigh Dickinson poll good news for Jon Corzine, but it’s nonetheless as encouraging a survey as he’s gotten: He trails Chris Christie 45% to 39%, which is the smallest deficit Corzine has faced since April and the first time since Christie secured the Republican nomination that a poll finds him under 50%. The good news stops there, and the fact Corzine has been reduced to celebrating a 6% margin says as much about the hole he is in as it does about any uptick to his chances of survivals.
A challenger crossing 50% is such a show of force that it’s hard to read much into it not occurring; far more significant is the fact that Corzine is still below 40%. The rest of the poll also finds truly dismal numbers for the Governor. His favorability rating stands at 31-54, while Christie’s is a solid 37-25. Perhaps worst is the fact that independents detest Corzine almost as much as Republicans do: It might be easy to overcome a 13-77 rating among GOP voters, but a 17-64 rating among independents? How can that be overcome? After all, it’s not like Democrats are enamored with Corzine either: Christie receives 20% of Democratic support.