A new poll commissioned by NH Journal shows that President Obama is the frontrunner in the 2012 election, at least in the Granite State. The President has a net positive image and approval rating among a representative sample of likely New Hampshire general election voters. 52 percent of respondents said that they have a favorable view of the President, as opposed to 44 percent who view him unfavorably. While Obama has always enjoyed relative personal popularity, the survey results suggest that his performance ratings, which have often lagged significantly behind, are on the upswing. 50 percent of survey respondents approved of his job performance as President, as opposed to 44 percent who registered their disapproval.
The poll also included head-to-head matchups between Obama and the four potential Republican Presidential candidates that scored the highest in NHJ’s survey of likely Republican primary voters, Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, and Newt Gingrich. Of those match-ups, only Romney posts competitive numbers; the former Massachusetts Governor is in a statistical dead heat with Obama, raking in 44 percent of the vote to Obama’s 48 percent. The next closest is former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee at 13 points behind Obama, who bests both Gingrich and Palin by over 20 points.
NH General election voters aren’t particularly enthusiastic about any of the Republican contenders; Romney and Huckabee score barely positive image ratings (+1 and +3 respectively). Gingrich and Palin provoke deeply negative reactions among many Granite Staters, with negative image ratings in the double digits.
The Granite State’s famously independent character always plays a large role in dictating the outcome of elections, and looking at how the candidates did among Independent voters yields interesting results. Of the four Republicans tested, only Huckabee has a net positive rating among Independents, he wins their approval at the same +3 margin he scores with the electorate at large. The other candidates don’t stack up nearly as well; Independent voters break -15 for Romney, -37 for Palin, and -44 for Gingrich.
While the President’s popularity may remain intact, voters deeply disapprove of one of his signature policy initiatives. Repeal of the new health care reform law is favored 50 percent to 43 percent. Unsurprisingly, the overwhelming majority of Republicans are pro-repeal, and they are joined by 16 percent of Democrats. Independents are split right down the middle, with 46 percent both supporting and opposing repeal.
Repeal of the health care law is an extremely polarizing issue. Of the 50 percent that favor repeal, 43 percent describe themselves as “strongly” holding that position, and of the 43 percent that want the law upheld, 35 percent do so strongly.
Granite Staters overall maintain their independent spirit when it comes to a key social issue: same-sex marriage. When asked if they would support repeal of the law allowing same-sex marriage passed by the state legislature last year, the general electorate wants the law upheld by a margin of +22. However, this is one spot where the electorate is deeply split along party lines; Republicans favored repeal of the law by a 63 percent to 26 percent margin, with 52 percent “strongly” supporting it, illustrating Republican voters’ continued distaste for the new law.
The reported results are from an autodial survey of 798 New Hampshire registered voters who described themselves as likely to vote in the 2012 general election. The survey was commissioned by NH Journal and performed by Magellan Data and Mapping Strategies on February 9th-10th, 2011. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.49 percent at the 95 percent confidence interval. The survey results were weighted based upon voter turnout demographics from the 2004 and 2008 general election cycles. Full topline results are available below.