On the trail: Housing top issue for NH voters

John Tully/Monitor staff, file

Cinde Warmington, Kelly Ayotte, and Chuck Morse at the NFIB Gubernatorial Candidate Forum on Thursday.

Cinde Warmington, Kelly Ayotte, and Chuck Morse at the NFIB Gubernatorial Candidate Forum on Thursday. Sofie Buckminster


For the Monitor

Published: 06-20-2024 3:10 PM

Modified: 06-20-2024 10:07 PM

Housing stands head and shoulders above other leading issues as the most important problem facing New Hampshire, according to the results of a new poll.

Thirty-six percent of those questioned in a University of New Hampshire Survey Center poll released on Thursday listed it as their top concern.

Education, at 7%, was a distant second, followed by immigration and jobs and the economy, each at 6%, and the cost of living at 5%. The 15 other issues tested in the survey registered at 4% or less.

The survey, which was conducted June 13-17, also sampled Granite Staters’ views on the Democratic and Republican candidates running to succeed four-term Republican Gov. Chris Sununu.

Former U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte remains the most well-known and the most popular.

Fifty-three percent of those questioned said they had a favorable view of Ayotte, with 20% holding an unfavorable opinion of her and another 20% saying they were neutral. Only 8% said they didn’t know enough to form an opinion about Ayotte, who served as the state’s first female attorney general before winning election to the U.S. Senate in 2010.

Former longtime state Senate president Chuck Morse stood at 24% favorable and 19% unfavorable in the poll, with a third neutral. Twenty-three percent said they didn’t know enough to form an opinion about Morse, who ran unsuccessfully for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination in 2022.

The two major Democrats in the race were less well-known.

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

Former three-term Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig had a 38%-8% favorable/unfavorable rating, with 22% neutral and 42% unable to form an opinion.

Cinde Warmington – the only Democrat on the five-member New Hampshire Executive Council – stood at 35% favorable and 8% unfavorable, with 10% neutral and nearly half questioned (47%) unable to form an opinion of her.

Jon Kiper, a small business owner, community activist and former town councilor in Newmarket who’s a longshot for the Democratic nomination, had a 16%-6% favorable/unfavorable rating, with 8% neutral and seven in 10 unable to form an opinion of him.

Sununu’s approval rating as governor remained solidly in positive territory, with 55% approving of the job he’s doing steering New Hampshire and 42% disapproving. Eight in 10 Republicans and seven in 10 independents gave Sununu a thumbs up, but only 29% of Democrats said they approved of the governor’s job performance.

Fundraising fight

Ayotte remains the clear fundraising front-runner in the race for New Hampshire’s corner office.

Ayotte’s team on Wednesday highlighted that Ayotte hauled in $1.5 million since the previous filing report last December.

They noted that Ayotte had raised over $4.2 million since launching her campaign last July which they touted as “the largest amount ever raised by a gubernatorial candidate in state history.”

Craig reported hauling in $1.1 million in the latest filing period, with a total of $2.3 million since announcing her candidacy last year. The Craig campaign highlighted figures are a Democratic fundraising record in Granite State gubernatorial races.

Warmington reported raking in $750,000 in the latest filing period, with a total of $1.8 million brought in since she jumped into the race last year.

Craig’s $1.3 million cash on hand was more than double what Warmington had in her campaign coffers. Warmington spent some of her fundraising dollars on early TV ads.

Wednesday was the filing deadline.

Of the four major candidates for governor, Morse was the only one not to file.

Here’s why.

Contrary to popular belief, candidates are not required to file their fundraising figures in June of an election year unless they are also raising money through an aligned political action committee. If a candidate is solely raising cash through his or her campaign committee, filing in June is optional.

But not filing in June is rare, and the optics don’t look great for Morse, who has lagged behind Ayotte when it comes to fundraising.

Morse – as well as the other candidates – will need to file fundraising figures in August, just a few weeks before the early September primary.

As of the last filing deadline, in late December of last year, Morse had brought in roughly $902,000 in fundraising.

Fundraising, along with public polling, is a key metric in campaign politics, and is seen as a gauge of a candidate’s popularity, strength, and organization. The money raised can be used to hire staff and expand grassroots outreach and get out the vote operations, for candidate travel, and to pay to produce and run ads on TV, radio, online, and in print, and for mailers.

“Kelly Ayotte is a fundraising powerhouse,” veteran New Hampshire-based Republican consultant Jim Merrill told the Monitor.

Merrill, who is neutral in the Ayotte-Morse showdown for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, noted that “oftentimes fundraising success translates into grassroots success. This is an encouraging indicator for her at this important milestone in the race.”

Craig misses Concordgubernatorial forum

Three of the four major gubernatorial contenders were at the Grappone Center in Concord on Thursday, to take part in a forum hosted and organized by the New Hampshire chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business, or NFIB.

Ayotte, Morse, and Warmington all attended, and discussed their economic agendas and their plans to help small businesses in the Granite State. But Craig was not present, due to what her campaign had said for a couple of months was a scheduling conflict.

The Republican Governors Association, in an email titled “No Show Joyce Craig,” charged that the candidate “seems to think it’s acceptable to simply hide from New Hampshire voters.”

And Ayotte, in her opening comments, noted that “there is a top candidate on the Democrat side that is not here today. She then added, “I want you to know that I will always show up for you.”

Warmington’s campaign, after the event ended, put out an email titled “Warmington Only Democrat to Participate in Small Business Gubernatorial Forum.”

Craig’s team would not say what conflict existed to keep her away from the event. However, they noted that the former Manchester mayor has already participated in a couple of forums so far this year, in Exeter and at Dartmouth College, and that she’ll also attend a forum on July 15 in Plymouth. The campaign says Craig looks forward “to participating in more in the future.”