It's not clear if New Hampshire Governor John Lynch will seek a fifth term as Governor next year, but if he does it looks like he'll have a much easier time of it than he did in 2010. Lynch's approval rating is up to a 58/33 spread, making him one of the most popular Governors in the country in PPP's polling, and he leads 4 different Republicans we tested against him by margins ranging from 18 to 28 points.
The most telling finding in the poll in showing how much things have shifted back toward the Democrats in the state over the last five months is that Lynch leads John Stephen 57-29 in a hypothetical rematch of their contest last fall, even though Lynch defeated Stephen by only an 8 point margin at 53-45.
The strong Republican year in New Hampshire was driven more than anything else by the fact that those who turned out to vote supported John McCain by a 4 point margin in 2008, in contrast to Barack Obama's actual 10 point victory in the state. Democratic voters stayed home in droves last year but now they're beginning to be reenergized and although places like the Granite State may not be as Democratic as they were in 2008 next year they're likely to be a lot closer to that than how they voted in 2010.
Former Senator John E. Sununu polls the closest to Lynch but still trails by 18 points at 54-36. Former Congressman Jeb Bradley and near Senate nomination winner Ovide Lamontagne trail by identical 24 point margins at 57-33.
There's a lot of speculation that Lynch may retire after this term. For space reasons we didn't test other Democrats for Governor on this poll but one thing that does bode well for the party's prospects of holding this office even if Lynch retires is the favorability numbers of the Republicans. They're all unpopular with Bradley and Lamontagne having the 'best' favorability spreads at 29/35, followed by Sununu at 33/46, and Stephen at 22/36. The GOP may need to look in a different direction than these potential candidates to have their best chance at winning even in an open seat situation.
These numbers are certainly good news for Jeanne Shaheen in regards to the possibility of a grudge match with Sununu is 2014 as well. Her victory in 2008 may have been a reflection not just of the Obama wave but also of voters just not being that into Sununu.
This analysis is also available on our blog:
A press release and full crosstabs are attached