NH-Sen: Hodes Within 3 of Ayotte, With a Sarah Palin Assist

PPP (pdf) (7/23-25, New Hampshire voters, 4/17-18 in parentheses):

Paul Hodes (D): 42 (40)

Kelly Ayotte (R): 45 (47)

Undecided: 13 (13)

Paul Hodes (D): 41 (41)

Bill Binnie (R): 46 (46)

Undecided: 13 (13)

Paul Hodes (D): 43 (43)

Jim Bender (R): 42 (40)

Undecided: 16 (18)

Paul Hodes (D): 43 (43)

Ovide Lamontagne (R): 38 (38)

Undecided: 18 (19)

(MoE: ±3.3%)

It looks like Sarah Palin is one former point guard that you don’t want an assist from… or more specifically, her endorsement is great in the GOP primary, but poison in the general. It turns out that 26% of voters say her endorsement would may it more likely that they’d vote for her endorsee, while 51% say it would make them less likely. In this race, Kelly Ayotte got the endorsement, and it seems to have had exactly that effect, in that Ayotte is the only candidate for whom the spread against Democrat Paul Hodes got tighter since April.

Moderates really seem to dominate the field (47% are moderate here, with 23% liberal and 30% conservative), and that also may explain why Bill Binnie, who’s portraying himself as the most moderate of the GOP field here, is now faring the best against Hodes. (It’ll be interesting to see whether he can get out of the conservative-dominated GOP primary, though, and Tom Jensen hints that he won’t. Presumably PPP will release primary numbers tomorrow.) The Palin effect is particularly pronounced among moderates: 14% say more likely, 65% say less likely.  

Looking into the fine print, I’m also noticing something very unusual here: Granite Staters seem to dislike every single candidate in this race (Hodes at 35/40, Ayotte 36/39, Binnie 27/33, Bender 15/28, Lamontagne 16/33), which is probably attributable to the negative ads currently filling the air. But in a marked departure from most other states, they actually approve of their elected officials (Barack Obama 49/47, Judd Gregg 44/39, Jeanne Shaheen 45/44).

85 thoughts on “NH-Sen: Hodes Within 3 of Ayotte, With a Sarah Palin Assist”

  1.    I have been seeing so many people writing off Hodes’ chances in the election that it is good to see it still close. I know that NH isn’t as Democratic as it seemed in 2006-08 but it also isn’t as Republican as it used to be. I hope that Hodes can put together a good campaign and win this thing.

  2. Hodes will win.  

    I find their approvals of all of their federally elected officials (except House) perplexing.  I think NH voters want to be viewed as smart and are unlikely to be thought of as dumb.  So they approve of their delegation more than most any other state.

    How exactly Obama has a higher approve than Gregg or Shaheen I don’t really know.  But that can ONLY help give Hodes hope that being visibile and doing what he thinks is right will be important.  

    What is Shea-Porters approve/disapporve?

  3. for endorsements according to PPP.


    In fact, Palin 26% number is just as high as Obama’s 26% number in own home state of Illinois.

    Obama endorsement:

    Illinois: 26/40

    Louisiana: 22/55

    Ohio: 24/51

    Penn: 22/50

    Wisconsin: 19/50

    Palin’s 26/51 in New Hampshire is comparable to all of those states and keep in mind that Obama won all of those states except for Louisiana.

  4. I’d kind of written this off in my head after so many months with so little seeming traction.  Not that I had written it off as really unwinnable, just that there didn’t seem to be much momentum nor any particular prospect of gaining some.

  5. I want to add that Barbara Boxer is now up 49-40 over Carly Fiorina, according to PPP. Fiorina, of course, is another Mama Grizzly. Palin may prove to be the kiss of death, God willing. But Fiorina’s problems go deeper than that. She’s arrogant, reactionary, and unlikable. As she increasingly becomes the subject, moderates are turning back to Boxer. Another factor, often overlooked, is that Boxer is an amazing politician. She’s proven that she knows how to win in California, even in adverse conditions. I think she’ll do it again.

    The kids are all right.

  6. It has to do with Palin. This race has not been polled by non-Rasmussen in a long time. Since then, Binnie and Hodes have attacked Ayotte and she has had a scandal.  

  7. These numbers are effectively the same once one takes into account the margin of error. I think the Palin endorsement doesn’t do much for Ayotte, but I can’t imagine the average voter even knows it has happened.

        If the Ds get some momentum going into November this race will be very close if not a Hodes win. In the current environment it looks like it’d be Ayotte. I think other than NC this race is the one most likely to trend the same as the rest of the nation.  

  8. I think it’s a combination of a few different things: the attack ads by Binnie and Bender, the scandal from her time as AG, and the natural ebb and flow of an election cycle. NH is always unpredictable, and while I still consider Ayotte the favorite because of the environment, I expect Hodes to hang in there all the way to election day.

    Also, a bit of a long shot explanation here: the last poll was taken just after Tax Day, which is a great time for the GOP (even Nate Silver remarked that April 15th is the one day a year he considers becoming a Repbulican.) Perhaps the timing of that poll gave Ayotte an artificial bump in this tax-hating part of the country, and the race has always been closer than we thought.

  9. I’m vacationing in NH right now and i have seen 4 ayotte signs (3 were clustered together).  I have seen several signs for bender and binne.  a few for lynch, more for stephens who is also running for gov, and a cluster of assorted signs for house.  aside from the lynch sign, i have not seen a single sign for a dem (although they’re not in a primary, so that might be expected).

  10. I don’t believe that Palin’s presence will help or hurt Ayotte in November.  The conservatives are excited right now, and having her presence in NH may excite them more.  At the same time, it might push the NH moderate voice towards Hodes in the process.  It could end up as a wash.

    At the same time, Obama’s presence in NH could have a positive effect for Hodes.  The Democratic base is not nearly as excited about 2010 as the Republican base.  Having Obama (or Clinton) assist Hodes would potentially excite the base in a way that would make some statistical noise.  At the same time, the moderates probably wouldn’t be too upset by an Obama/Clinton appearance because a good portion of the moderates had voted for them in the past.

    This will be a close race, and unless Ayotte can shore up her moderate numbers, she will be relying almost exclusively on the conservative outrage.  

  11. This a Mccain-heavy sample with 12% Obama voter no-shows.  The Obama no-shows will be some variable percentage in every state, but 12% is very high for a state with almost no African American voters.

    Make that 4%, and Hodes leads Ayotte by about a point and is a couple points behind Binnie.

    Pure toss up here, and clearly Dems should be rooting against Binnie and for Ayotte.

  12. in any of those states are actually less likely to vote for someone because of Obama’s endorsements.

    The right-leaning voters that say they are less likely to vote for a candidate Obama endorses were never going to vote for a candidate that Obama endorses anyway.  And the true indies always hate it when national candidates like Obama and Palin get into local contests, so they register their disapproval.

  13. Haven’t all of Obama’s endorsee’s since 2010 all lost their elections?  I thought he was like 0 for 6 since taking office.

    We cna only hope and pray every Palin endorsee loses their race.

  14. The Palin effect is particularly pronounced among moderates: 14% say more likely, 65% say less likely.

    From what I see, the PPP link you provided does not note any effect from moderates w/r/t an endorsement from President Obama.  

  15. What this doesn’t make sense to you (saracasm).  She also has a better approve/disapprove spread with Liberals than she does with Moderates.  Of course this is perfectly sensible.

    I should start a polling company.  I wonder if people like ice cream more than migraine headaches.  I bet the results will be shocking.

  16. of them could be purist types. The Democrats version of tea baggers. The people that are pissed about things not being liberal enough for them that call Obama a DINO and what not. Some of those people say that they are going to support Republicans to get back at Obama. Just a theory.  

  17. The subsample of liberals is too small for the subsample’s numbers to be reliable.

    The toplines and turnout model are worthy of examination, but for the most part not the crosstabs.

  18. More likely to identify themselves as baby murderers really.  

    I come from a long line of upstate NY libertartians (which are pretty much New England libertarians).  Trust me, they will not call themselves Liberal EVER.

  19. has the same positive and negative value of an Obama endorsement (the PPP polling in the states suggests that it has slightly more value but the same negative value).  I’m willing to make that concession based on the numbers.

    I don’t think your colleagues will make that concession despite the numbers.

  20. Obama is THE leader of the Democratic Party, and as such automatically “endorses” every Democratic nominee except maybe the few whackjobs who sneak on to the Democratic line on a ballot.

    To the extent you’re talking about primaries, then yes Obama makes “endorsements” that can be legitimately called that.  But those are to influence Democratic primary voters who overwhelmingly support Obama, so there’s no cost to the endorsed candidate of being associated with the President.

    And in primaries he’s not 0-for-6 because Blanche Lincoln won, so that’s one win there.  Specter lost, but what other primary has there been where Obama endorsed?  Obama supports Bennet who is comfortably leading Romanoff, that primary is still prospective.

  21. I don’t speak in platitudes.  Why people are constantly trying to find common factors to apply to evey race is beyond me.  Just seems lazy.  

    But I will say this, an Obama endorsement in NH will help more than Palin.  Recall that NH doesn’t want to be crazy left or right.  Ayotte clearly seems more likely to go right than Hodes does more left.

    Better the devil you know type of thing…

  22. PPP has outliers just like everyone does.  I want to see corroboration before I quite buy this.  I don’t discount it totally because I realize the attack ads against Ayotte might be flying in NH now, and that could explain this.  It’s certainly not the Palin endorsement, that’s lazy analysis by PPP.  But attack ads matter.

  23. Believe it or not the Palin endorsement has gotten a lot of attention in New Hampshire. I have a cousin up there that told me it was on the news a lot at least. Also I read about one of the states top newspapers ripping the endorsement. New Hampshire is a state that does not like extreme views on either side of the isle and Palin is about as extreme as they come.  

  24. Palin was campaign up in New Hampshire in 2008 didn’t she say something really stupid that pissed off the locals?  

  25. are you going to accept the numbers they found for Obama in Ohio, Wisconsin, and PA?

    If NH voters view her as an extremist, then voters in Ohio, Wisconsin, and PA must view Obama as an extremist as her endorsement numbers in NH are stronger than his in Ohio, Wisconsin, and PA.

  26. That such a subset exists in NH or would be this big.  Liberal purists certainly aren’t the same nationwide.

    To DCCyclone’s point though, we’re probably grasping at straws (crosstabs) that aren’t reliable.

  27. the people that think it’s a good idea for Congress to invoke the “nuclear option” and kill the filibuster just to get the public option, immigration, and cap-n-trade passed.  (coughfiredoglakecough)

    Those people piss me off just as much as the right wingers, perhaps even more so.

  28. Take a look at Obama’s vote totals in these state’s vs Mrs. Palin’s.  There’s not much reason to think that polls trump ACTUAL VOTING….EVER

  29. think the reason why Obama’s endorsement numbers are the same as Palin’s in New Hampshire because he’s an extremist towards the general electorate. They’re just pissed off at Obama because of the economy, not over social issues like Palin is.  

  30. the key number is among moderates,

    PPP has it for NH — to repeat,

    The Palin effect is particularly pronounced among moderates: 14% say more likely, 65% say less likely.  

    I do not see such numbers — w/r/t moderates — for the states you mention.

    It is already well known that President Obama is not liked by most conservatives.  

  31. If an Obama “endorsement” was as toxic as Palin’s appears to be in NH, then we would expect someone he endorsed to lose ground in the GE polls. But we haven’t seen that yet. The only clear-cut Obama endorsement I’ve seen- putting aside that he endorses EVERY Democratic nominee, however implicitly- is in IL. And Giannoulias has not suffered a drop like Ayotte has since Obama visited. He’s pretty much in the same place (a little higher, but that’s not attributable to Obama or anyone besides Kirk’s big mouth).

    If Obama HAS endorsed candidates in those other states- or if the voters just THINK he has- then the proposition gets even weaker. In OH, Fischer is about the same with regards to Portman as he’s always been, neck-and-neck. Sestak has actually GAINED on Toomey. Melancon’s still far behind, but he’s been around 10 points down since the start. Feingold seems suddenly endangered, but Russ Feingold has a much longer history of close races than of safe ones.

    So, while Obama and Palin’s numbers on endorsements may be similar, Palin’s is having a more tangible effect*. That tells us that those numbers for Obama are much softer, and thus, much less indicative of what voters think of his “Extremity”.

    *- This, of course, is all based off of one poll. We should wait to see some more NH before we declare ANYTHING, and we should remember that Hodes has put up negative ads AND that Ayotte had a rough news cycle in front of the legislature. This may not be Palin at all, and even if it is, Ayotte and Palin may both right there ships by November. But to the extent that we can rely on these numbers, it indicates that a Palin endorsement IS a dicier proposition than an Obama one.

  32. PPP polled that race, Fiorina had already been endorsed by Palin and she was in a statistical tie. I wonder if this is an outlier or if the race has moved that much since the last Field Poll and SUSA poll?  

  33. My guess is many conservaDems and moderate Independents have come to the conclusion that Fiorina’s flaws outweigh Boxer’s. I suspect the race, at least for now, is actually closer than 9, although Boxer could very well prevail with that margin. Keep in mind, most other CA-Sen polls have been closer than this, including the Survey USA one which had Fiorina ahead.

  34. A vote by a conservative counts the same a vote by a moderate?

    If it’s just conservatives getting Obama to the same or weaker endorsement numbers that Palin is getting, why is significant that Obama’s  numbers are due to poor numbers among conservatives while Palin’s numbers are due to poor numbers among conservatives when they arrive at the samer result?

  35. C’mon, this one is easy.

    When a conservative says Trait X makes him less likely to vote for the Democrat, well, I guess it might be interesting, but it’s not significant; he’s a conservative, he was already going to vote for the Republican 9 times out 10. The same thing goes for a liberal. This trait isn’t going to decide their vote, their pre-existing ideology is.

    But a moderate isn’t so locked-in to a particular ideology. That’s what makes him moderate, he might vote for either side depending on what factors are present in the election. So, when he tells you how certain factors influence him, that says a lot more; if he’s now “less likely” to vote for a Democrat, it means something, as there was a real chance he’d vote for the Democrat before.

    Let’s attach some numbers to this to make it concrete. You’ve got a mainstream partisan that is only 20% likely to vote for a certain candidate, and a pure moderate who is 50-50. “Less likely”, for sake of argument, loses you 10%. So, if both say they’re less likely because of Trait X, where do we end up? Well, the partisan is now only 10% likely to vote for you, but hell, he was going to vote against you 80% of the time already. The moderate, though, is now going to vote against you 60% of the time. So someone that was up for grabs is now noticeably in the other camp. Do that too many times and you better hope you can get a cushy think-tank job.

    Now, what does that mean for this “key number” concept? Well, say two liberal politicians both have a trait that turns off 100 voters. The first one’s trait turns off 75 conservatives and 25 moderates. The second’s turns off 75 moderates and 25 conservatives. They both turn off 100 voters, but the first one is still in much better shape, because those 75 conservatives weren’t likely to vote for him anyway. The 75 moderates aligned against the second guy, though, that’s a tough loss, that’s 75 votes that COULD have been his, but are now leaning towards the other guy.

    This is why candidates move to the middle after the primary, why the center is the “Safest spot in politics”. It’s where your winning vote comes from.

  36. It is a dangerous phenomenon in New England that campaign yard signs are becoming self-aware and plotting against humanity.  Stephen King wrote of this.  Or will soon.

    More seriously, yeah, the only thing the yard signs tell you is that only Republicans have a contested primary in August.  Seriously, that’s the only valid takeaway.

  37. …that the Palin endorsement is really hurting her that much for November.

    Palin is greatly disliked by most people, but she’s not in a position of power to really scare anyone.  She was too chicken shit to stay Governor of conservative Alaska for 4 full years, that doesn’t exactly inspire fear of Palin in Americans’ hearts.

    My political intuition tells me that attack ads, unfavorable media coverage, and scandals all matter, while endorsements do not.

  38. Palin probably hurts in NH like Obama would hurt in say South Carolina. Though looking at the Pollster favorability averages tells you what you need to know about who hurts more in general. Obama is net positive, 50-44 while Palin is net negative and then some, 37-52.

  39. Depending on the height of grass around the lawn signs, we can tell whose supporters have the ebst weedwackers.

  40. All of the above is perhaps the best explanation. However, if PPP suddenly shows a big jump for Ayotte in the primary I think that supports the idea of Palin both helping and hurting her at the same time. Same deal with Haley and Handel in their primaries though of course the endorsement in SC and GA is somewhat less of a problem.

  41. contradict nearly all the data that Pollster.com has collected for his national favorable ratings.

    Mason-dixon found him at 33/55 favorable/unfavorable in Missouri and surveyusa found him at 39/39 in washington.  Neither poll was of likely voters.

    So if those two pollsters are right, Obama is not at 50/44 but rather 37/52.

    Pollsters are finding incredibly different results and it’s not just Rasmussen.

  42. New Hampshire has been blue in four of the past five presidential elections.  The exception (2000) had left/left-of-center candidates getting the majority, it was just split enough to deliver it to Bush.

  43. still come to the same numbers according to the PPP endorsement data.

    The topline data between the two is the same according to PPP if you look at the various states that have been polled (Wisconsin, Ohio, PA, and even Illinois)

  44. …but it isn’t true. Two statewide polls don’t contradict a national average anymore than an apple contradicts an orange.

  45. the bender signs are smaller, suggesting less money and thus, at this stage, less support.  the large number of nonayotte signs may suggest that the other campaigns know she’s the frontrunner (up until this poll no duh) and are being more aggressive.  or it could be nothing.

  46. stephen king is getting ready for a political sign horror story, as soon as he’s done with his biography of ben franklin and lamp monster story.

  47. when pollsters are showing such disparate results.

    Look man, someone is wrong between Bloomberg/Washington Post and Survey USA/Mason-dixon.  Someone is not just wrong but incredibly wrong.  The results cannot be reconciled in any way unless you buy there’s a huge distinction between  polling adults and registered voters.

  48. who think every poll that has results they don’t like is biased or/and wrong. You’ve prompted an interesting discussion, but your arguments in this thread have seemed tendentious to me.

  49. It doesn’t matter if someone’s struggles with moderates are outweighed by someone’s strengths with conservatives.

    The reason why Palin and Obama arrive at the same topline numbers for endorsements is because Palin’s endorsements are stronger with conservatives than Obama’s endorsements are with moderates/liberals (and vice/versa, Palin’s weakness with moderates/liberals equals out to Obama’s weakness with conservatives).

  50. …strength amongst conservatives (or liberals, for that matter) isn’t as important; they’re already going to vote a certain way 9/10ths of the time; if they’re more or less likely to do it, it isn’t as important because they start off from such an extreme number. Moderates don’t start out from such a position, so whatever makes them more or less likely to vote a certain way becomes much more important.

    Sure, an Obama endorsement makes a conservative Republican less likely to vote for Paul Hodes. But a conservative Republican wasn’t often going to vote for Paul Hodes anyway, so the difference is slight. But a moderate that is turned off by that endorsement is a bigger deal, because there was far more of a chance that she would vote for Hodes.

  51. First off, thanks for the dialogue on this issue.

    Second, I think you are overstating the percentage of moderates who are actually “swing voters.”  A democrat should be able to win around 55% of moderates in his or her sleep.  Democrats need to win moderates to have any chance in any election because moderates are typically left-leaning voters.  The composition of the current Republican Party is such that moderates only become a problem for Republicans when the Republican cannot win a large enough percentage of the conservative vote to compensate for the Democrat win among moderates.  There are enough people who identify as conservatives to make such a strategy tenable and you’re seeing it some of the polling this election cycle.

    90% of conservatives rarely vote for the Republican.  Around a quarter of conservatives are open to voting for a Democrat over the republican because not all conservatives are Republicans.  Some are conservative Democrats or indies.  They may be conservative on social issues and liberal on economic issues or vice versa.

    You assume that Hodes or any Democrat had no chance to win 25% of the conservative vote.  I think that’s a false assumption.

  52. With conservatives. 57-15 favorable in this poll, 47-11 in the previous. In other words the endorsement gained her 6 net points favorability with conservatives but lost her 24 points with moderates.

  53. “You assume that Hodes or any Democrat had no chance to win 25% of the conservative vote.”

    I don’t, and the only way you can think I do is if you didn’t read what I wrote. I’m just saying the Dem has an easier chance of getting moderates to vote for him than conservatives, and you clearly agree, since you think a Dem should win 55% of moderates in his sleep.

    The bottom line is, no Democrat wins his election by maxing out his share of the conservative vote. So, a trait that turns off conservatives isn’t a big deal. However, Republicans DO win by getting just enough of the moderate vote to shore up the conservative base- and so, a trait that turns off those moderates can be the different between 48% of the vote and a Senate seat.

  54. If Obama’s endorsements really were as poisonous as Palin’s seems in NH, we’d see his endorsees take a similar drop in the GE. We haven’t, yet.

  55. so basically no change in the sample dynamics here.  The big change seems to be in Ayotte’s favorables dropping a lot, and thus a very significant voter move to Hodes.

  56. No, he doesn’t know better than this.

    As I’ve posted before, the increasing Republican infestation here has started to drag down the quality of the discussions.

  57. with “needs to win”. Sure, a Dem COULD win 25% of the Conservative vote (though man, it’d be tough; Shaheen only got 15%, and she was a two term governor with a moderate streak running against an ethically challenged Sununu), but he wouldn’t NEED to. Conservatives were only 28% of the voters in 2008; even with a generous expansion of that in 2010 (which isn’t at all out of the question), that’s still small enough that you can lose ALL of them and still win. So a trait that makes those conservatives less likely to vote for you isn’t that big deal; you don’t need them anyway.

    However, a Republican needs a big chunk more than the self ID’ed conservatives- again, because they’re so small. I guess you can say they could get that from the liberals (though Sununu only got 8%, so do you really want odds?), but it’s much easier to get it from the moderates. Even if the moderates are “left-leaning” (and not all of them are), they’re not as left-leaning as people who call themselves liberal without reservation. And so, a trait that turns off those moderates is pretty perilous for a Republican. They need to pick off a few of those moderates to win.

    But I mean, we can see this in the numbers, right? An Obama endorsement in IL is about as popular as a Palin endorsement in NH, the real difference is that Obama’s pisses off conservatives and Palin’s pisses off moderates. But only the Palin endorsee has seen a noticeable drop in polling numbers (in this single poll, to be sure).

  58. Many people here who do not prescribe to the FDL mentality support the constitutional option.

  59. http://www.theatlanticwire.com

    The Precedent from 1960-62  Liberal blogger Jonathan Bernstein recounts  the Kennedy years. “Most of the liberal agenda was stopped by rules that empowered conservatives in the House of Representatives. Yup, the House, not (primarily) the Senate. And so the first Congress with JFK in the White House was relatively unproductive, and Democrats didn’t do especially well in the 1962 midterms. Meanwhile, liberals inside and outside of Congress applied major pressure for reform, and in fact during those years, liberals in the House enacted major reforms.” The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait adds, “repeating this scenario would require Democrats to hold the House in 2010 and then with the White House in 2012. That seems optimistic but not impossible.”

  60. trolling admittedly gets annoying sometimes, but I think GOPVOTER and MassGOP raise the level of discussion here.

  61. Actually, the only reason I don’t like it is because it reflects the times. They wouldn’t have dared post here in 2006 and 2008. Sad for that reason but I welcome the contribution just as long as they hold back on the temptation to gloat.  

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