Key Point: "It is more likely that Havenstein could lose his primary than he is to beat Hassan. The conventional wisdom is that Havenstein will pull off the nomination, but that it is not sure bet."
WMUR: State of the Race: Governor
The race: New Hampshire Governor
Who is running:
- Incumbent Democrat Maggie Hassan, of Exeter, is in her first term as governor.
- Republican challenger Andrew Hemingway, a tech entrepreneur from Bristol.
- Republican challenger Walt Havenstein, a retired corporate executive from Alton
WMUR Political Scoop: Likely Democrat
Cook Political Report: Likely Democrat
Rothenberg Political Report: Safe Democrat
Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball: Likely Democrat
The State of the Race: Hassan is close to putting away contest
In this race, Democrat Maggie Hassan is running for a second term. The latest WMUR Granite State Poll this week tells the story: she has a 60 percent job approval, essentially unchanged from the spring. Her two Republican challengers remain unknown and she crushes them by nearly two to one margins in head to head matchups. This is especially worrying for Republican Walt Havenstein, who has been running television ads for nearly a month now, yet only 14 percent of state residents have even heard of his name.
In fact, it is hard to invent a scenario as to how Hassan can lose. Still, there one reason why I am holding back putting this race into the “safe Democrat” category. At this point 2010, Gov. John Lynch had the same approval rating and was beating his likely Republican opponent by the same amount. Because it ended up being such a Republican year Lynch still almost lost and had to pull it out in the end. Who knows how big of a Republican year 2014 will be and Hassan does not have the reservoir of goodwill Lynch had to turnaround a bad situation days before the election.
Still, when Lynch was at 61 percent job approval that was a low point for him and Hassan’s 60 percent approval rating is her best ever.
There were really just two big developments in this race, both involving Havenstein. Last week he narrowly won a vote that will keep him on the ballot this year. The Ballot Law Commission ruled 3-2 that he met state constitution's residency requirement. The second big development was that Havenstein began running television ads, the only candidate so far to do so.
(Source: WMUR Granite State Poll by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, July 2014)
Head to head general election matchup:
Hassan v. Hemingway : 54 percent to 28 percent
Hassan v. Havenstein 55 percent to 29 percent
Hassan (D) 88 percent
Hemingway (R) 12 percent
Havenstein (R) 14 percent
What to watch for: Who will win the Republican primary?
If you even still care about this race the thing to watch is the Republican primary. It is more likely that Havenstein could lose his primary than he is to beat Hassan. The conventional wisdom is that Havenstein will pull off the nomination, but that it is not sure bet.
What is lacking is in this contest is any real issue divide between the two candidates. So far it has been a contest about personality and establishment versus the grassroots. No one has really taken charge in his race, and someone will.