The race for Governor of New Hampshire looks like a toss up, with Democrats Jackie Cilley and Maggie Hassan both basically tied with Republican front runner Ovide Lamontagne.
The only thing in the poll that looks like a safe bet is that Lamontagne will be the Republican nominee. He has a 53-13 lead in the primary over challenger Kevin Smith. Lamontagne has expanded his lead even further after leading Smith 40-12 when we tested their match up in January. Lamontagne's benefiting especially from his strength with the right, leading 64-9 with voters describing themselves as 'very conservative.'
There's a lot less clarity on the Democratic side. Maggie Hassan leads Jackie Cilley 23-20 but the main story is that 57% of voters are undecided. That contest looks pretty wide open. The uncertainty is largely a function of Hassan and Cilley's anonymity at this point. Hassan has only 35% name recognition with Democratic voters and Cilley's is 33%.
Both of the Democratic candidates are locked in a tight race with Lamontagne for the general election. Lamontagne leads Hassan 40-39 and he's dead even with Cilley at 38%. In both of those match ups only 14-15% of Republicans are undecided, while 21-24% of Democrats are so there's reason to think that once the Democratic candidates become better known their party will get around them and they'll have a small advantage.
On the off chance that Smith won the Republican nomination both of the Democrats would start out with a modest advantage. Hassan leads him 37-31 and Cilley has a 37-32 advantage.
Other notes from our New Hampshire poll:
-One thing that may help Democratic chances of holding the Governor's office is John Lynch's continuing popularity. 60% of voters approve of the job he's doing to 28% who disapprove. That 60% approval rating matches the highest we've found for any sitting Governor anywhere in the country.
-Democrats lead the generic legislative ballot in the state 47-41. That's quite a shift from two years ago and could result in a large number of seats switching parties this fall.
-Support for gay marriage in New Hampshire continues to be on the rise. 57% of voters think it should be legal to 35% who think it should be illegal. That represents a six point increase in support for gay marriage compared to last July when we found support at 51/38. Democrats (85% support) and Republicans (just 21% support) are pretty far apart on this issue but as we're finding more and more independents (61% support) are a lot closer to the Democrats than the Republicans on it. 85% of voters support some form of legal recognition for gay couples in the form of either marriage or civil unions, including 69% of Republicans.
-65% of voters support legalizing medical marijuana to 24% opposed. That includes more than 70% of Democrats and independents and even a plurality of GOP voters (46/43).
This analysis is also available on our website: