Paul Hodes has the best net popularity of four possible 2010 New Hampshire Senate candidates, our newest survey finds.
Hodes is viewed favorably by 42% of voters in the state, with 34% seeing him unfavorably. Carol Shea-Porter and John Sununu each have a +3 net positive image with state voters at 43/40 and 46/43 respectively. Charlie Bass is the least popular of the quartet at 33/37.
Hodes holds a slim lead over Sununu and Bass in hypothetical contests, 46-44 and 40-37. Shea-Porter narrowly trails each of the possible GOP candidates by a single point, 46-45 to Sununu and 43-42 to Bass.
Digging deeper into the numbers it is interesting to note that Shea-Porter is actually viewed slightly more favorably by Democrats than Hodes. 74% of Democrats have a positive opinion of her compared to 70% for Hodes. His numbers are better overall because more independents like him and fewer Republican dislike him compared to Shea-Porter. Nonetheless Shea-Porter has a history as a contrarian and if she decided to run too it looks like a primary contest would pretty much be a tossup.
The significant takeaway on the Sununu numbers is that despite his loss for reelection last year, it's not as if New Hampshire voters significantly dislike him, as is sometimes the case when an incumbent is deposed. More Democrats- 20%- have a favorable opinion of Sununu than there are Republican voters who have a positive opinion of either Hodes or Shea-Porter. He is probably the strongest candidate the Republican could get to run.
With Hodes in the race the Democrats have succeeded in their recruitment efforts. If the GOP does the same by getting Sununu to make another run for it this race would have to be considered a tossup at this early stage and is likely to be among the most competitive races in the country next year. If not, Hodes probably has a slight early edge over the Republican field.
Full results here.