New Hampshire Senate showdown: Hassan leading Bolduc by 8 points in crucial battleground state

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With less than seven weeks to go until November’s midterm elections, a new public opinion poll in the key swing state of New Hampshire indicates former governor and first-term Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan has an upper single-digit lead over her Republican challenger, former Army Gen. Don Bolduc.

Bolduc, who’s making his second straight bid for the Senate and who last week narrowly won the GOP nomination in a crowded and combustible primary showdown, is challenging Hassan in a race that is one of a handful across the country that will likely determine if Republicans win back the chamber’s majority in November.

According to Granite State Poll released Thursday by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, Hassan stands at 49% support among likely voters, with Bolduc at 41%. Five percent questioned said they’d vote for Libertarian candidate Jeremy Kauffman and an equal amount were undecided. The poll was conducted Sept. 15-19, entirely after the Sept. 13 primary in New Hampshire.

The survey indicates that Hassan enjoys 98% backing from Democrats, while only 83% of Republicans are supporting Bolduc. The former general ran an outsider style campaign as a populist and MAGA-Republican in the primary, winning the nomination by a razor-thin margin over longtime New Hampshire Senate President Chuck Morse, a more mainstream conservative who was backed by popular GOP Gov. Chris Sununu. 

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New Hampshire Republican U.S. Senate candidate Don Bolduc smiles during a primary night campaign gathering, Tuesday Sept. 13, 2022, in Hampton, N.H.

New Hampshire Republican U.S. Senate candidate Don Bolduc smiles during a primary night campaign gathering, Tuesday Sept. 13, 2022, in Hampton, N.H. (AP Photo/Reba Saldanha)

“Bolduc will need to heal the intra party divide and increase his support among Republicans if he is to have a chance at defeating Hassan,” UNH Survey Center director Andrew Smith said.

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Among independent voters, Bolduc stood at 45% support, with Hassan at 30% and Kauffman at 21%. The poll also indicated Hassan with the large advantage among those under age 50, women, and people with college degrees, while Bolduc lead among those 65 and older, men, and people without college degrees.

Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan, after voting on primary day in New Hampshire, in Newfields, N.H. on Sept. 13, 2022

Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan, after voting on primary day in New Hampshire, in Newfields, N.H. on Sept. 13, 2022 (Fox News)

Despite her 8-point lead over Bolduc, the poll indicates Hassan’s favorable rating remains in negative territory, at 40% favorable and 49% unfavorable. Republicans have long viewed Hassan as vulnerable as she runs for re-election due to her underwater favorable and approval ratings in most public opinion polling.

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The new survey indicated Bolduc at 26% favorable and 43% unfavorable, with just over three in ten either neutral or didn’t know enough about the candidate to form an opinion.

Battleground New Hampshire is also home this year to two congressional races that are among a couple of dozen that may determine if Republicans win back the House of Representatives in the midterm elections.

The poll indicates two-term Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas with a 50%-43% advantage over GOP challenger Karoline Leavitt in the state’s 1st Congressional District, which for a generation has been one of the top House swing seats in the country.

And the survey shows six-term Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster with a slight 48%-45% edge over Republican nominee Robert Burns in the 2nd Congressional District. 

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When asked to name the two most important issues that will make them more likely to vote in the November general election, 51% pointed to the economy, inflation and the cost of living, while 42% pointed to abortion and women’s rights.

The UNH Survey Center poll questioned 870 likely New Hampshire voters online, with a sampling error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points for statewide questions.

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