Gov. Sununu Lacks Support in GOP Primary but Performs Strongest Against Biden

Less than a year until the New Hampshire Presidential Primary, the first Emerson College Polling/7 News WHDH survey of Granite State voters finds President Biden with a 38% job approval, while half of voters (50%) disapprove of the job he is doing. Governor Chris Sununu is ten points more favorable: 48% approve of the job he is doing as Governor, while 30% disapprove.

While Governor Sununu holds a 64% approval among registered Republican voters and 53% approval among independent voters, he has 7% support among Republican primary voters for the nomination.

Former President Donald Trump holds a 41-point lead in a hypothetical Republican primary, with 58% support. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis holds 17%, followed by Governor Sununu at 7%, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley at 6%, and former Vice President Mike Pence at 4%.

Among announced candidates Trump, Haley, and Vivek Ramaswamy, Trump’s support increases to 73%, followed by Haley with 20%, and Ramaswamy with 7%.

Kimball noted, “Similar to our February national poll, Trump finds his primary base among young voters: 67% of Republican primary voters under 35 support Trump as the nominee. Unlike the national survey, where DeSantis found a base of voters over 65 and those with higher educational attainment, DeSantis holds no such base at this time among New Hampshire Republicans. Similarly, Governor Sununu is unable to surpass 10% among any demographic groups.”

In the Democratic Primary, a majority, 55%, of Democratic Primary voters think President Joe Biden should not be the 2024 Democratic nominee, while 44% think he should be the nominee. New Hampshire voters contrast with last week’s Emerson national poll of Democratic voters, where 71% support Biden as the nominee.

Spencer Kimball, Executive Director of Emerson College Polling noted: “There is an age divide in the Democratic electorate in New Hampshire. Biden has 30% support with voters under 50, 50% support among voters in their 50s and early 60s, and 68% of voters over 65 support Biden as the nominee.”

While 55% of Democratic primary voters think the nominee should be someone else, when these voters are presented with a list of potential Democratic candidates, a plurality of voters, 29%, support President Biden as the nominee, followed by Senator Bernie Sanders with 17%, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg with 14%, and Senator Elizabeth Warren and Vice President Kamala Harris with 11% respectively.

In a hypothetical 2024 presidential matchup between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, Biden leads Trump 42% to 38%; 16% would support someone else and 4% are undecided. Between Biden and DeSantis, Biden leads 42% to 37%, 14% would support someone else and 7% are undecided. Against Governor Sununu, Biden trails 36% to 44%, while 14% would support someone else and 6% are undecided.

New Hampshire voters were asked if they think the age of Joe Biden and Donald Trump respectively would help them be effective presidents, or think their age would be an obstacle to being an effective president, or if it would not matter. A majority of New Hampshire voters, 57%, think Biden’s age of 82 would be an obstacle to being an effective president, 6% think it would help him be an effective president, while 37% think it would not matter that much.

A plurality of voters, 46% think Trump’s age of 78 would not matter that much, while 36% think it would present an obstacle to being an effective president and 18% think it would help him be an effective president.

Seventy-six percent (76%) of voters find it very (52%) or somewhat (24%) important that the New Hampshire presidential primary remains the first primary in the nation, while 24% find it not very (14%) or not at all (10%) important. 

Voters were asked, regarding marijuana laws, if the New Hampshire legislature should legalize marijuana and tax it like alcohol, or keep marijuana laws as they are now. A majority, 58%, think New Hampshire should change their marijuana law to legalize and tax marijuana, while 31% think New Hampshire should keep laws as they are now. Eleven percent (11%) are unsure or have no opinion on the matter. 

The economy is the top issue to 23% of New Hampshire voters, followed by housing (16%), education (14%), healthcare (12%), abortion access (8%), opioid epidemic (7%), and gun control (5%). This contrasts with national public opinion, where the economy is 18 points higher at 41% in last month’s Emerson poll.

“Republicans are in agreement that the economy is the top issue facing New Hampshire at 41%, whereas Democrats are more split: 21% find education to be most important, 20% housing affordability, 13% abortion access, and 10% the economy,” Kimball said. 


The Emerson College Polling survey of New Hampshire voters was conducted March 3-5, 2023. The sample of registered voters, n=1,025, has a margin of error (MOE), of +/- 3 percentage points. The data sets were weighted by gender, age, education, race and ethnicity, party registration, and region based on 2024 registration modeling. It is important to remember that subsets based on demographics carry with them higher margins of error, as the sample size is reduced. Data was collected using an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system of landlines, SMS Text to web of cell phones, and an online panel.