• Wed. May 22nd, 2024

CNN Poll: Biden leads Trump in potential New Hampshire rematch, though dissatisfaction with both remains high

CNN Poll: Biden leads Trump in potential New Hampshire rematch, though dissatisfaction with both remains high


An early read of a New Hampshire rematch between Joe Biden and Donald Trump gives the incumbent president the advantage, amid signs that anger toward Trump could outweigh dampened enthusiasm for another Biden term, according to a new CNN/University of New Hampshire poll.

About 6 in 10 New Hampshire residents, 62%, say they would be dissatisfied or worse if Trump retook the presidency – with most, 56%, expressing outright anger at the prospect. A 56% majority say they’d be dissatisfied or worse if Biden won reelection, but fewer, 38%, say they’d be angry. About one-fifth say they’d be less than satisfied with either scenario.

But in a head-to-head matchup between Biden and Trump, a narrow majority, 52%, of potential 2024 voters in the state say they’d back Biden, with 40% favoring Trump and 8% unsure or saying they would back someone else. That’s a wider edge for Biden than in most recent national polling on the matchup, which has largely found a margin-of-error contest between the two most recent occupants of the White House.

There’s also little consensus that any of those challenging Biden or Trump for their party’s nominations would be a good choice. Nearly half, 48%, say they’d be dissatisfied or angry if South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott were to win the presidency next year, with the numbers going up from there. Majorities say they’d be unhappy with a win by former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (57%), tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy (62%), Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (63%), former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (72%) or former Vice President Mike Pence (76%). On the Democratic side, most also say they’d be unhappy with a win by author Marianne Williamson (56%) or environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (59%).

Biden’s edge in a New Hampshire rematch of 2020 rests partly on stronger support among his own partisans: 94% of Democrats currently say they’d back him against Trump, while 79% of Republicans in the state now say they’d support Trump. Yet Democrats are less enthusiastic about the prospect of a Biden presidency than Republicans are about a Trump one. Few Democrats in the state are outright discontented with the thought of a second Biden term – about 8 in 10 say they’d be satisfied to see him reelected. But just 31% report that they’re enthusiastic about the prospect, with that number falling to 19% among Democrats younger than age 50. Among Republicans, by contrast, 53% say they would be enthusiastic about a Trump win.

Despite the lack of enthusiasm, Biden remains the unquestioned leader in the campaign for the state’s primary: He holds a commanding 78% support among likely Democratic primary voters, with Kennedy and Williamson both in the single digits (at 9% and 6%, respectively). And a majority of Democratic primary voters, including three-quarters of Biden’s supporters, say their minds are definitely made up.

The New Hampshire primary is traditionally the first in the nation. Its date for 2024 has not yet been scheduled, though it is widely expected to be set for January. A January primary in New Hampshire, however, would violate the Democratic National Committee’s rules. If that happened, Biden likely wouldn’t put his name on the ballot. But even in that case, 69% of Biden supporters say they would write him in anyway.

Likely Democratic primary voters in the state see few plausible alternatives to a Biden-led ticket. While 81% would be enthusiastic or satisfied if Biden won reelection, fewer than 1 in 5 Democratic primary voters feel the same way about either Kennedy (17%) or Williamson (12%). Just 9% hold a favorable view of Williamson, with 47% viewing her unfavorably and the rest neutral or unsure; Kennedy gets an identical 9% favorability rating, but with a 73% majority rating him unfavorably. Just 37% say there’s someone else besides the current candidates they’d like to see run in the Democratic primary, but there’s little agreement as to whom: 7% of all likely Democratic primary voters name Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, with smaller numbers suggesting Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg (5%), California Gov. Gavin Newsom (4%) or Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (3%).

Considering Vice President Kamala Harris, 63% of Democratic primary voters say they’re at least satisfied with her as Biden’s running mate, though just 21% describe themselves as enthusiastic about her. Another 26% are dissatisfied or angry, with the remainder unsure. More broadly, Harris prompts largely negative views among New Hampshirites overall, with 54% saying they have a negative view of her and 23% a positive one. Even among Democrats, just 46% say they have a favorable view of Harris and 14% a negative one, well below Biden’s 70% favorability rating among Democrats in the state.

An 86% majority of likely Democratic primary voters approve of Biden’s current job performance overall, although only about half say their approval is strongly held. When asked to name their top concern about Biden as a candidate, 57% of likely Democratic primary voters cite his age, with 4% mentioning his health. Relatively few concerns focused on his character (6%), his policies (4%) or attacks he might face from opponents or the media (4%). And few see a major disconnect between their own political views and Biden’s. A 43% plurality say Biden’s ideology is similar to their own views, with 39% saying Biden’s views are further right than their own (32% slightly, just 7% by far), and 16% that his views are further left than theirs (9% slightly, 7% far).

Among New Hampshire residents as a whole, Biden’s job approval ratings remain underwater – 46% approve, while 54% disapprove – although that’s slightly stronger than his average approval rating nationally, which stands at 40% in the latest CNN Poll of Polls. Four in 10 say he’s had the right priorities during his administration, with 57% saying he hasn’t paid enough attention to the country’s most important problems.

Many express concerns about Biden’s physical and mental health in the poll. Just shy of half (46%) say that Biden is currently definitely or probably mentally and physically capable of fulfilling his duties as president, with 52% saying they don’t believe he is. Looking ahead, confidence in Biden’s abilities declines as just 35% think Biden would definitely or probably be capable of fulfilling his duties for another full term.

Yet Biden still holds the advantage in hypothetical general matchups against top Republicans, and his chief rival, Trump, is even more unpopular than Biden in the state. Among New Hampshire’s potential 2024 general electorate – those who say they intend to vote in November 2024 – Biden’s unfavorability rating stands at 52%, while Trump’s tops that at 63%.

The hypothetical matchup between the two somewhat mirrors the results of the state’s 2020 presidential election, which Biden won 53% to 45%. Trump came significantly closer to carrying the state in the 2016 election, when Hillary Clinton bested him by less than 3,000 votes.

Biden also holds double-digit leads in hypothetical New Hampshire tests against DeSantis, Ramaswamy, Pence, Scott, Haley and Christie, but substantial numbers of potential voters in each these matchups – between 9% and 16% – volunteer that they’d instead choose to vote for Trump. That comes almost entirely among Republicans, 18% of whom say they would vote for Trump in a Biden vs. Ramaswamy matchup, rising all the way up to 35% saying they would vote Trump in a Biden vs. Christie matchup.

Voters’ desire for an additional option doesn’t always translate from polls to the ballot box – in 2020, fewer than 2% of New Hampshire voters picked a candidate other than Biden or Trump. And should someone other than Trump become the GOP nominee, it is likely that these Republicans would ultimately vote for that candidate. But the current numbers reflect the depth of some Republican voters’ ties to Trump.

The eventual nominees are likely to face off in a pessimistic political environment that sees Granite State residents expressing discontent about both pocketbook issues and issues like abortion. Just 1 in 4 New Hampshire residents see the country as headed in the right direction. About half, 51%, say their family’s finances are worse off than they were at the beginning of the Biden administration, with 32% saying they’re doing about the same and just 16% that they’re now better off. Most Republicans (84%) say they’re worse off, as do 58% of those without a college degree.

By 59% to 37%, New Hampshire residents oppose last year’s Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. A 54% majority describe themselves as “strongly” opposed, with such strong opposition especially high among Democrats (90%), women (63%) and adults younger than 35 (59%). Views are more closely split on New Hampshire’s law banning abortion after 24 weeks, except in cases of medical emergency, with 45% of state residents in support and 47% opposed.

The CNN New Hampshire poll was conducted online September 14-18 by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center. Results among the full sample of 2,107 New Hampshire adults drawn from a probability-based panel have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.1 percentage points. Likely Democratic primary voters and potential 2024 general election voters were identified through survey questions about their intention to vote. Results among 953 likely Democratic primary voters have an error margin of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points; it is 2.2 points for results among the 2,060 people in the potential 2024 electorate.

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