Biden has slight edge in N.H., UML poll shows

Despite dodging the state’s first-in-the-nation primary election, a recent poll shows President Joe Biden holds a slight edge over former President Donald Trump in New Hampshire.

A poll of 600 likely New Hampshire voters conducted UMass Lowell’s Center for Public Opinion and YouGov from May 6 to May 14 shows that the 45th President would lose the Granite State for a third time running if the general election were held today, despite the fact the Biden chose not to participate in the state’s primary in favor of allowing South Carolina to vote first.

“Biden leads Trump 42% to 36%, with less than six months until Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 5. Eleven percent of respondents support independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., while 9% are undecided and 2% say they will vote for another candidate,” pollsters wrote.

Most of those polled expressed their dissatisfaction with the 2020 election sequel presented in 2024. More than half of those polled — 58% — said they were very or somewhat unhappy with the Biden vs. Trump dichotomy do-over. Among independent voters, that number jumps to 71%.

According to Rodrigo Castro Cornejo, the Center for Public Opinion’s associate director and a UMass Lowell assistant professor of political science, “most New Hampshire voters polled are unhappy with the presidential ballot.”

Since that’s a sentiment shared by voters in states across the country, Cornejo says both candidates will need to court the undecided.

“In a polarized America, split along partisan lines, both Biden and Trump will first try to activate their base, and, as November approaches, they will try to appeal to undecided voters. Even though undecided voters are a small portion of the electorate, persuading them will be particularly important in what we can expect to be a highly competitive presidential election,” he said.

The poll also examined the effect of former U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s anti-Massachusetts stance in her campaign for governor of New Hampshire. The former senator has centered much of her run around the assertion that the Granite State is but “one election away from becoming Massachusetts.”

According to UMass Lowell Professor Joshua Dyck, the polling center’s director and chair of the political science department, New Hampshire voters don’t seem to be buying that message.

“In an increasingly nationalized political environment, it’s unclear whether Kelly Ayotte’s choice to run against Massachusetts liberals is the right strategy to put her into the governor’s mansion. We won’t have a better idea of where this race stands until New Hampshire voters get to know her potential opponents for the fall election. In the meantime, one thing she does have on her side is name recognition in a sea of relatively unknown candidates,” he said.

The poll found 30% of voters think the state is “at great risk” of becoming “too much like Massachusetts.” A little more than a third of those polled said there is some risk, and 36% said there was no risk of the Granite State turning into the Bay State.