Nearly 40 students took to the phones for four days in early April on behalf of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center and found that in a head-to-head matchup for president, Mitt Romney would have a slight lead on Barack Obama among New Hampshire voters.
The New Hampshire State of the State poll shows 43.9 percent of respondents would vote for Romney if the presidential election was held today, while 42.4 percent would vote for Obama. The remaining 13.7 percent of respondents were undecided.
Although in its fifth year, this year marked the first time the poll was conducted by students outside of the Rockefeller Center’s Policy Research Shop. Students joined the effort from classes led by Associate Professor of Government Deborah Brooks and Ben Cole, visiting assistant professor at the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center and co-manager of the Policy Research Shop.
Rockefeller Center Associate Director of Curricular Programs and Senior Fellow Ronald G. Shaiko, who directed the survey, says, “I think the student experience is what’s so great about this statewide poll. I think it’s a really rich experience for students to get engaged and to see how polling really works. They see how you open a sample, how you go through the sample multiple times until everyone gets a fair chance at responding, and then they get to look at the data and analyze it.”
Michael Altamirano ’13 was one of the students involved in analyzing the data collected from the poll. “Comparing the data from this year with previous State of the State polls is very illustrative in showing just how volatile these opinions are,” Altamirano says. “Plenty can change in the next seven months that will alter these opinions before voting begins, and it will be exciting to see that change unfold as November approaches.”
Respondents to the poll indicated less pessimism about the U.S. economy. Last year, only 38.6 percent of surveyed voters rated the economy as “excellent”, “good”, or “fair”; this year, that number jumped to 53.9 percent.
The poll examined numerous New Hampshire state policy and social issues as well. Voters deemed “building a strong economy” as the most important issue for New Hampshire policymakers to address. “Improving education” was identified as the second highest priority.
“What struck me about the poll is that it sheds light on what the Republican legislature has been doing over the last two years,” says Shaiko. “Clearly there’s not much support out there for what they’ve been doing. It’s the classic over-reach. A party takes over and goes a step and a half too far. And we’ll see if they get reined in by the electorate this time around.”
A third of the respondents reported they were registered Republicans while slightly less than a third, 27.2 percent, reported themselves as Democrats. The largest portion of respondents, 38.1 percent, reported they were undeclared or independent voters.