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Blog Home Page --> Governor -- New Hampshire

Lynch A Cinch?

New Hampshire Governor John Lynch won re-election in 2006 by a nearly three-to-one margin, boosting his Democratic Party so much that it took back the state legislature for the first time in almost 100 years and won both the state's congressional seats. A new poll out today suggests the second-term governor could be in for another big win this November.

The Granite State Poll, taken 4/25-30 by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, surveyed 456 likely voters for a margin of error of +/- 5%. After Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta said he would not run for the governor's mansion, Lynch is left facing State Senator Joe Kenney.

General Election Matchup
(All / Dem / GOP / Ind / Men / Wom)
Lynch 68 / 89 / 44 / 65 / 67 / 69
Kenney 17 / 3 / 36 / 9 / 19 / 15

Lynch is viewed favorably by a hefty 74% of Granite State voters, and the same number approve of his job performance as governor. And while a vast majority of the national public sees the country as headed off on the wrong track, 65% of New Hampshire voters say their state is headed in the right direction.

Plus, any time a candidate is beating his or her opponent by eight points among their opponent's own party, the challenger has a pretty steep, and likely impossible, climb. Republicans have a likely strong candidate in Guinta, if he decides to run a few cycles down the road, but for now, Lynch looks like a safe bet for re-election.

If he wins by a similarly large margin as he did two years ago, Lynch could hurt Republican candidates down the ballot. When Democrats swept to power, they did so after promising to eliminate the ability to pull one party's lever, requiring people to vote on each contest individually. That eliminates at least some of the coattails Lynch will have, but if the top of the statewide ticket wins by a massive margin, that will swing a few percentage points away from incumbent Senator John Sununu and candidates running against the two freshmen Democratic House members.

Then again, the best friend Sununu and others have this year will be John McCain, who is hugely popular in the state. In a duel of coattails, that might give the Republican Senator, who trails former Governor Jeanne Shaheen in all recent public polls, at least one reason to hope.

Guinta Passes On NH Race

Dealing Granite State Republicans a serious blow, Manchester mayor Frank Guinta will not make a bid against New Hampshire Governor John Lynch, the Union Leader's John DiStaso reports. Guinta, who was encouraged to take on Lynch by Washington and New Hampshire Republicans, said instead he will focus on his second term as mayor.

Guinta's refusal to make the race leaves only State Senator Joe Kenney facing Lynch. The move also puts other Republicans in jeopardy, as Lynch, who remains hugely popular, is likely to again run up a big total against an underfunded, little-known opponent. In 2006, when Lynch defeated State Representative Jim Coburn by a nearly three-to-one margin, Republicans also lost both the state's congressional seats and control of both chambers of the state legislature.

This year, New Hampshire promises to again be a swing state in November, and with Lynch heading the ticket, Democrats will be in good position to keep the state in their column. Senator John Sununu would have liked a more competitive governor's race as well, as he faces the fight of his political life against Democratic former Governor Jeanne Shaheen, a race polls have shown her leading consistently.

Guinta, who is only 37 years old, will continue to run his Granite State Leadership PAC to help Republicans around the state and in anticipation of a likely future bid for the top job. "When the time is right you will probably see my name on the ballot for something else," Guinta told DiStaso. Guinta will have to watch his political present closely. When he won his first race as mayor, in 2005, he surprised Democratic incumbent Bob Baines who was said to have his own future in statewide politics.

Lynch In Strong Position

New Hampshire Governor John Lynch, a Democrat who won re-election in 2006 by a record margin over an admittedly weak Republican challenger, is in strong position in his bid for a third term, a new survey shows. Two years after his party swept to power in the state legislature for the first time in nearly a century, Lynch faces the prospect of a tougher foe in Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta, but the survey shows independent voters breaking heavily for the incumbent and giving Lynch a serious advantage.

The American Research Group poll, which also showed former Democratic Governor Jeanne Shaheen far outpacing Republican Senator John Sununu in a rematch of their 2002 battle, was conducted 3/14-17 among 541 registered New Hampshire voters for a margin of error of +/- 4.2%. Lynch and Guinta were surveyed.

General Election Matchup
(All / Dem / GOP / Ind)
Lynch 62 / 87 / 26 / 70 (+14 from last, 12/07)
Guinta 20 / 12 / 44 / 9 (-12)

While the December poll testing the two held Lynch under 50% of the vote, several factors in this month's poll will likely be questioned as well. With undeclared voters breaking as heavily for Lynch as Democrats are, some may suggest that the sample gathered more Democratic leaners than those who bent toward Republicans. But independents handed the GOP severe losses in 2006, and a large margin of those voters favoring Lynch is not unlikely.

If he runs, a decision he has not officially made, Guinta will be able to close the gap by improving his performance among Republicans, who still outnumber Democrats in the state. But any victory will have to include a win among independent voters, a population far larger than both parties, and there, Guinta has work to do.

Both Lynch and Guinta face re-election every two years, but Guinta's take place in off years, meaning he would not have to surrender his mayoralty to make a bid for the state's top job. And Guinta is taking serious steps toward a run. Top political adviser Mike Biundo was in Washington this week interviewing fundraising firms that might be employed for the race, the Union Leader's John DiStaso reported.

RGA Polling In NH

The Republican Governor's Association, seeking to expand the field of competitive seats in November, is conducting a poll in New Hampshire, where Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta is seen as a potential dark horse to unseat popular incumbent John Lynch. The only problem: Even conducting a poll may be illegal in the Granite State without the proper paperwork.

The New Hampshire Attorney General's office has ordered the RGA to stop polling until it registers in the state as a political action committee, the Union Leader's John DiStaso reported Friday. Still, the poll, which included a test of Lynch's negatives, is not a push poll, as state Democrats had charged, which is illegal in New Hampshire.

But because it included those negatives, it is a political tool used to influence the race instead of a data-gathering tool, the AG's office declared. Therefore, the RGA has to pay $50 to register as a political committee in the state. The committee was dinged by the same office in 2004 for running anti-Lynch ads without registering. That year, Lynch beat incumbent Republican Craig Benson.

While Democrats and Republicans generally agree that governor's races in Indiana, Missouri and Washington State will be competitive this year, few expect any others to present big challenges to incumbents. Lynch as a vulnerable incumbent is a stretch as well; after winning by just 14,000 votes out of more than 650,000 cast in 2004, Lynch walloped his Republican opponent in 2006, winning almost three to one.

Still, national and state Republicans are excited about the possibilities of Guinta making a run. The young mayor of the state's largest city, whose terms are up in odd-numbered years, would not have to give up his seat, and even if he lost Guinta could set himself up for a future statewide bid. State and local offices in New Hampshire is up every two years, one of just a few states to hold elections so frequently.

Sununu's Xmas Gift

Republicans in New Hampshire have had little to cheer for lately. In 2006, the party lost both chambers of the legislature for the first time since 1911, along with two members of Congress while the incumbent Democratic governor won a higher percentage of the vote than any governor in the state's history. For 2008, things looked bad for Senator John Sununu.

Sununu faces a difficult re-election against his 2002 opponent, former Governor Jeanne Shaheen. In every poll so far, Shaheen has led, often by wide margins. Until now. A new American Research Group poll, conducted 12/16-19, gives Sununu a reason to smile. The poll surveyed Sununu and Shaheen among 558 registered voters.

General Election Matchup
(All / Dem / GOP / Ind)
Sununu 52 / 13 / 93 / 48 (+11 from last, 9/07)
Shaheen 41 / 79 / 4 / 41 (-5)

ARG pollster Dick Bennett, who has conducted polls for some Republicans in the state, says he expects Democrats to flock more to Shaheen, closing the race, and suggests Sununu's strength is overstated. Still, the poll is great news for the beleaguered incumbent, though the poll gives Shaheen confidence: President Bush has an approval rating of just 22% in the state, meaning any attempt to tie Sununu to the White House could hurt the GOP.

Republicans, stung in 2006 when Democratic Governor John Lynch won re-election with 73%, may push Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta to run for the state's top job next year. The same poll shows Guinta trailing, but holding Lynch under the crucial 50% mark.

General Election Matchup
(All / Dem / GOP / Ind)
Lynch 48 / 79 / 15 / 52
Guinta 32 / 6 / 63 / 26

Guinta is no stranger to uphill battles. In 2005, he surprised Democratic incumbent Bob Baines to win election in Manchester, an upset few expected. At just 37 years old, Guinta has a long future ahead of him. If he runs against Lynch, the Republican would start off as the underdog, though Lynch would not have an easy race.