Poll: Potential Sununu-Hassan matchup in N.H. a dead heat 

New Hampshire Sen. Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanPoll: Potential Sununu-Hassan matchup in N.H. a dead heat  Bipartisan group says it's still on track after setback on Senate floor Democrat calls on Olympics to rectify situation after Paralympian drops out of games MORE (D) would face a neck-and-neck contest against Gov. Chris SununuChris SununuPoll: Potential Sununu-Hassan matchup in N.H. a dead heat  Schumer, Tim Scott lead as Senate fundraising pace heats up Hassan raises record .25M in second quarter MORE (R) if he decides to challenge her in next year’s midterm elections, a new poll shows.

The Granite State Poll, conducted by the University of New Hampshire’s Survey Center, shows Sununu and Hassan statistically tied, 49 percent to 48 percent, with just 2 percent of voters undecided in the contest.

Sununu holds a clear lead over Hassan among independent voters, 52 percent to 38 percent. Men favor Sununu by a 22-point margin, while women back Hassan, herself a former governor, by a 19-point edge.

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Hassan has wide advantages among those who have had at least some college education, while Sununu leads by 47 points among those who have not attended college, a stark reminder of the educational divide increasingly defining modern politics.

The poll underscores the increasing competition in a state where seemingly no incumbent is safe. Hassan won her seat in 2016 by just over 1,000 votes, beating out Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyottePoll: Potential Sununu-Hassan matchup in N.H. a dead heat  Democrats facing tough reelections back bipartisan infrastructure deal Sununu seen as top recruit in GOP bid to reclaim Senate MORE (R). Hassan’s seat mate, Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenEquilibrium/ Sustainability — Presented by NextEra Energy — Clean power repurposes dirty power CIA watchdog to review handling of 'Havana syndrome' cases Frustration builds as infrastructure talks drag MORE (D), won her first election in 2008 by beating Sununu’s brother, Sen. John E. Sununu (R), by 44,000 votes, or about 6 percentage points.

Shaheen won reelection in 2014, a good year for Republicans, by a narrower three-point margin against Scott Brown, who had represented Massachusetts in the Senate. Shaheen won a third term in 2020 by a far more comfortable 15-point margin, on the same day President BidenJoe BidenTrump endorses Ken Paxton over George P. Bush in Texas attorney general race GOP lawmakers request Cuba meeting with Biden For families, sending money home to Cuba shouldn't be a political football MORE carried New Hampshire’s electoral votes by seven points over Donald TrumpDonald TrumpCuban embassy in Paris attacked by gasoline bombs Trump Jr. inches past DeSantis as most popular GOP figure in new poll: Axios Trump endorses Ken Paxton over George P. Bush in Texas attorney general race MORE.

But, in a sign that Granite State voters are happy to split their tickets, Sununu won a third term in 2020 by a far wider margin than Shaheen — he scored 65 percent of the vote against a poorly funded Democratic rival.

Sununu has won strong marks for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected just over 100,000 New Hampshire residents and killed 1,384. Like other neighboring Republican governors in Massachusetts and Vermont, Sununu issued stricter lockdowns and mask mandates than Republican governors in other parts of the country.

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Forty-eight percent of New Hampshire voters — including 54 percent of independents and 13 percent of Democrats — see Sununu favorably, the Granite State poll found, while just 25 percent view him unfavorably. Hassan’s favorable rating stands at 37 percent, while 40 percent see her unfavorably.

Republicans have pinned their hopes of making New Hampshire a competitive contest on Sununu, the scion of a legendary New Hampshire political family. His father, John H. Sununu, was a three-term governor and White House chief of staff under President George H.W. Bush.

Sununu has been coy about his plans as he weighs a Senate bid against a run for a fourth two-year term as governor. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump Jr. inches past DeSantis as most popular GOP figure in new poll: Axios House rejects GOP effort to seat McCarthy's picks for Jan. 6 panel Senators scramble to save infrastructure deal MORE has talked him up as the GOP’s best chance at challenging Hassan, and National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman Rick Scott (R-Fla.) plans to visit New Hampshire next month, though he will not be appearing with Sununu.

The poll bears out the GOP’s calculus: Hassan holds a steady ten-point lead over Don Bolduc, a retired Army brigadier general who finished second in the 2020 Republican primary. She leads Ayotte in a hypothetical rematch by a slimmer 49 percent to 45 percent margin.

If Sununu or Ayotte jump into the race, the contest is likely to become a marquee matchup of the midterm election cycle. Both Democrats and Republicans combined to spend $38 million on the race between Hassan and Ayotte in 2016, and $26 million on the contest between Shaheen and Brown two years earlier.

The race would be one of the GOP’s best chances, along with states like Georgia and Arizona, at reclaiming a seat they would need to win back the majority in an evenly divided Senate in which Vice President Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisBiden celebrates anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act Will Pence primary Trump — and win? Kavanaugh conspiracy? Demands to reopen investigation ignore both facts and the law MORE stands as the tie-breaking vote.

The Granite State Poll surveyed 1,540 likely New Hampshire voters between July 15-19 in an online panel poll. The poll carried a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.