WBUR Poll: Trump Edges Ahead Of Clinton In N.H.

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Our latest poll of New Hampshire finds Donald Trump with a 1-point lead over Hillary Clinton. (AP)
Our latest poll of New Hampshire finds Donald Trump with a 1-point lead over Hillary Clinton. (AP)

A new WBUR poll of likely voters in New Hampshire finds that Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton are now in a dead heat with just five days to go before Election Day.

The survey also finds Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte leading her Democratic challenger, Gov. Maggie Hassan, by 6 points in one of the key races that could determine which party will control the U.S. Senate.

The poll is consistent with a number of surveys across the country that suggest the presidential race has tightened considerably.

In the last WBUR poll — just three weeks ago — Clinton led Trump by 3 percentage points in New Hampshire. This new poll (topline, crosstabs) now shows Trump in front, with a razor thin 1-point lead, well within the 4.4 percentage point margin of error.

"The race really couldn't be closer in New Hampshire at the moment,” said Steve Koczela, president of the MassINC Polling Group, which conducts the WBUR survey.


Among the most striking findings of the poll is how much voters continue to dislike both candidates.  Only 37 percent of respondents have a favorable view of Trump, which is up slightly from three weeks ago. While just 36 percent have a favorable view of Clinton, which is down a bit.

So for the first time, Clinton is viewed slightly less favorably than Trump.

"When we started this campaign, Trump was the most disliked candidate ever to be nominated by a major party, and Hillary Clinton was the second most disliked,” Koczela said. “So this voter distaste for the candidates is not a new dynamic, but it has not improved at all.”

The live telephone polling took place between Saturday and Tuesday — so after FBI Director James Comey shook up the race with news that he was resuming the inquiry into Clinton's emails.

Eighty-five percent of the respondents said they had heard "a great deal" or "a fair amount" about the story. Although nobody knows what's in the newly discovered emails -- or even if they're relevant at all to the investigation -- the story has fed the narrative that Clinton can't be trusted.

In the WBUR poll, a little more than a quarter of respondents say Clinton is "honest and trustworthy" and 70 percent say she is not. Trump's numbers are slightly better: A little more than a third say he is "honest and trustworthy." Sixty percent say he's not.

At a Trump rally in Manchester last Friday, Christian Carpino of Nashua explained that the issue of "honesty" is why he will vote for Trump.

“Because he's not Hillary, honestly," Carpino said, accusing Clinton of “dishonesty after dishonesty, lies after lies.” Carpino is among those who blame Clinton for the deadly attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. “She killed four Americans and lied about that. Just lies after lies."

Clinton's critics, including Trump, often cite the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi among the reasons to distrust her. In fact, the definitive account of the attack by the House Select Committee did not conclude that then-Secretary of State Clinton was responsible for the deaths of the four Americans — or that she could have saved them.

And her many supporters across New Hampshire are eager to defend her.

"I think she's honest. She's for the people," said Bretta Carrigan of Manchester, who was shopping at the Mall of New Hampshire earlier this week.

Carrigan says the latest news about Clinton's emails didn't influence her, and says it was the debates that convinced her to vote for the former senator and secretary of state.

"She does a lot for children, she always has,” Carrigan said. “She knows the routine [because of] her husband. She's been there, done that. I just believe in her. And I think Trump is fake. He's a womanizer. He discriminates [against] women, and I really dislike that.”

The WBUR poll found 69 percent believe Trump has done more to divide people than bring them together. Just over 50 percent feel that way about Clinton.

Kimberly Charette, from Londonderry, who was also at the Mall of New Hampshire this week, is among the many New Hampshire voters disillusioned with both candidates. Charette says, as a Republican, she'll vote for Trump, but not with an abundance of enthusiasm.

"Truly, I have to go party line, so I'm going Republican,” Charette said. “I think we need a change, but I don't really enjoy any of the candidates, which is kind of sad that in 2016 this is what we've come up against."

The WBUR poll also found a shift in favor of Republicans running statewide in New Hampshire: Ayotte now leads her Democratic challenger, Hassan, by 6 points. And in the governor's race, Republican Chris Sununu leads Democrat Colin Van Ostern by 5 points.

But in the close presidential election, there's still a sizable undecided vote — 7 percent — so this race is coming down to the final days of what pollster Koczela calls a grim and dispiriting campaign.

"The campaign and the election cycle may end next week, but some of the problems that it's caused and some of the problems it's revealed will remain," he said.

That conclusion is borne out by the WBUR poll, which found that nearly 60 percent of likely New Hampshire voters say the presidential campaign has made our democracy weaker, rather than stronger.

Correction: An earlier version of this story called it an embassy in Benghazi. It was a consulate. We regret the error. 

This article was originally published on November 03, 2016.

This segment aired on November 3, 2016.


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Anthony Brooks Senior Political Reporter
Anthony Brooks is WBUR's senior political reporter.



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