Primary Source: Trump Faring Poorly in N.H., But Voters Approve of Sununu

  • Valley News political columnist and news editor John Gregg in West Lebanon, N.H., on September 20, 2016. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Geoff Hansen

Published: 10/18/2017 11:49:24 PM
Modified: 10/18/2017 11:49:32 PM

Donald Trump came close to winning New Hampshire almost a year ago, but he’s not impressing many voters now, according to the latest Granite State Poll from the University of New Hampshire Survey Center.

Results released this week show New Hampshire residents “increasingly disapprove” of Trump’s job performance “and also have an unfavorable opinion of him,” according to a UNH news release on Tuesday.

Only 33 percent of the 573 New Hampshire adults in the survey said they approved of Trump’s job performance, while 61 percent disapproved.

While 74 percent of Republicans give him a thumbs up, only 29 percent of independents approve of Trump’s first nine months as president, and they’re the voters who really count. Only 5 percent of Democrats said they approved of Trump.

Asked for one word to describe Trump, Republicans in the survey most frequently said “strong,” “leader,” “businessman” and “patriot.”

Democrats, not so much. They most preferred “idiot,” “moron” and incompetent” in describing Trump, the news release said.

Trump did better at the polls last year, losing New Hampshire to Democrat Hillary Clinton by less than 3,000 votes out of more than 730,000 votes cast.

The survey results this week had better news for first-term Republican Gov. Chris Sununu.

Some 61 percent of respondents overall approved of his job performance, virtually unchanged from last quarter, and that included 56 percent of independents and 50 percent of Democrats.

By comparison, 49 percent of respondents said they approve of the job the Legislature is doing, while 28 percent disapproved.

Overall, 70 percent say the state is headed in the right direction, with only 9 percent identifying the economy as the state’s most pressing problem.

The leader on that front was the opiate crisis, with 52 percent saying that was New Hampshire’s No. 1 problem.

The UNH poll also had some encouraging news for septuagenarian politicians in the Democratic fold, though whether that should be seen as encouraging to the party’s prospects is another matter entirely.

While almost all Democratic voters in the New Hampshire survey said they don’t know who they would support in 2020 for president, the most frequently mentioned in an open-ended question were U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., at 14 percent; former Vice President Joe Biden, at 5 percent; Hillary Clinton at 5 percent; and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., at 4 percent.

Sanders, of course, is 76, Biden turns 75 next month, and Clinton, whom nobody expects to run again, will turn 70 next week. Warren, by the way, is 68.

Sullivan 1 Debates

There are at least two debates coming up in the special election to fill a New Hampshire House seat representing Cornish, Plainfield, Grantham and Springfield.

Republican Margaret Drye and Democrat Brian Sullivan will debate on Wednesday in Grantham in a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters, the Grantham-Springfield GOP and the Grantham Democratic Town Committee.

The event starts at 7 p.m. at Grantham Town Hall, with political analyst Dean Spiliotes, a civic scholar at Southern New Hampshire University, serving as moderator.

Sullivan and Drye will also debate on Nov. 1 at Plainfield Town Hall on Route 12A, at 7 p.m.

There is also talk of a forum in Springfield on Oct. 30, but details are still being firmed up.

Rallying Against the Death Penalty

Opponents of capital punishment will be meeting tonight at a house party in Cornish to benefit the New Hampshire Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. Speakers include John Breckenridge, the former partner of Manchester police officer Michael Briggs, who was shot and killed in 2006.

Breckenridge at the time supported capital punishment, but now opposes it. Briggs’ killer, Michael Addison, is the lone inmate on New Hampshire’s death row.

The event tonight is open to the general public and starts at 5 p.m. at 20 Lang Road in Cornish. The host, most notably, is former New Hampshire Superior Court Judge Jean Burling, along with her husband, former state Sen. Peter Burling, D-Cornish.

Briefly Noted

Windsor Republican John MacGovern opted not to run again after serving for several years as chairman of Windsor County Republicans. He has been succeeded by Scott Frye of Springfield, Vt. Frye ran unsuccessfully for the Vermont House last year.

Last week as staff and students at Vermont Law School celebrated the installation of VLS President and Dean Thomas McHenry, they also remembered the late Geoffrey Shields, the law school’s seventh president. A riverside bench and tree were dedicated in Shields’ memory.

John P. Gregg can be reached at

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