Public Policy Polling Media Alert: Ayotte holds 7 point lead in NH GOP primary

Kelly Ayotte’s had a quite a dramatic fall from PPP’s last poll of the New Hampshire Republican primary for Senate, when she led Ovide Lamontagne by 39 points. But Lamontagne may have run out of time to catch up. Ayotte leads with 37% to 30% for Lamontagne, 13% for Bill Binnie, and 12% for Jim Bender.

If Ayotte survives where many GOP establishment candidates have failed in Senate primaries this year it will be because she managed to be the Tea Party candidate herself. With the third of Republican primary voters who describe themselves as members of that movement she leads Lamontagne 38-37, a contrast to the wallopings folks like Trey Grayson, Sue Lowden, Lisa Murkowski, and likely Mike Castle have received with that group.

Ayotte builds on her running even with the Tea Party folks with a 39-17 lead over Lamontagne with moderate voters. Binnie actually finishes second with that group at 19%.

Although Binnie is best case scenario going to finish a distant third his numbers in this poll say a lot about where the Republican Party is headed. Generally viewed as the moderate candidate in the race, 55% of GOP primary voters have an unfavorable opinion of him to only 26% who see him favorably. That is telling when it comes to the ability of centrists to make their way in Republican primaries this year.

Lamontagne actually has the best net favorability of the candidates at +40 (56/16), followed by Ayotte at +29 (56/27), and Bender at +23 (42/19).

Lamontagne is effectively tapping into voters who think the GOP is too liberal, leading Ayotte 48-28 with that group. But those folks only account for 30% of the primary electorate and with the 48% who think the party’s ideologically fine she leads 45-28.

Unlike Delaware it may not matter from a general election standpoint who the Republicans nominate in New Hampshire. Numbers we'll release later this week show Ayotte and Lamontagne performing basically the same against Paul Hodes.

This analysis is also available on our blog: