PPP's final New Hampshire poll finds there's a better chance of Republicans winning the race for Governor than there is of Democrats winning the race for US Senate. That says a lot about the massive shift in the political climate we've seen over the course of 2010. Kelly Ayotte leads Paul Hodes 56-41 in the Senate contest while John Lynch has a more modest 53-44 advantage over John Stephen in his quest for reelection as Governor.
Ayotte has rebounded strongly from a turbulent primary season that saw her favorability numbers decline precipitously. 57% of voters have a favorable opinion of her to only 34% with a negative one. That +23 net favorability represents a 35 point improvement from early September, right before the primary, when her standing was at -12 with 47% of voters seeing her negatively to only 35% with a positive opinion.
What's interesting about the improvement in Ayotte's numbers since then is that it has come across the board politically. It's no surprise that her favorability with folks of her own party has improved from 58% to 87%- that kind of thing is to be expected when everyone gets unified after a primary. But Ayotte has also seen a large increase in her favor from independents (34% to 54%) and even with Democrats (from 11% to 21%). She had to move to the right and embrace Sarah Palin to win the primary and those things really hurt her numbers over the summer but her current standing indicates none of that caused long term political damage.
Hodes meanwhile never emerged as a strong candidate. 50% of voters see him unfavorably to only 34% who rate him in a positive light. Independents don't like him and the number of Democrats who dislike him is greater than the number of Republicans who do like him.
Even if Hodes had proven to be a great candidate it would have been pretty tough for him given how far Barack Obama's popularity in the state has fallen. Only 39% of voters think the President is doing a good job to 55% who disapprove of him. That level of overall animosity toward Democrats in Washington would have made it difficult for any candidate of the party to pick up this Senate seat.
Meanwhile in the Governor's race it appears John Lynch will get reelected, but not by nearly the kind of gaudy margin he has become accustomed to. For instance he's winning independents 56-40, an unusual feat for a Democrat this year. But that's nothing compared to the 79-19 advantage exit polls showed for him with them in 2008. And the 22% of Republicans he's winning is an unusual amount of crossover support for any candidate this year, but it's less than the 31% of them he got the last time around. Nevertheless barring a major shift in the final few days of the campaign he should survive for another term.
Full results here