UMass Amherst Poll: New Hampshire Voters Willing to Move Presidential Primary Election Date to Remain First in the U.S.

Granite State concerned about California usurping its position
UMass Amherst wordmark

AMHERST, Mass. – Voters in New Hampshire support the idea of moving their historically “first in the U.S.” presidential primary date even earlier in the year to stave off an attempt by a new law in California to have early voters there be the first casting presidential primary ballots. New Hampshire voters were queried on the issue in the most recent poll conducted by the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

When asked if they supported an even earlier presidential primary date,
51 percent of likely New Hampshire primary voters said they strongly or somewhat support the idea. Forty-one percent said they neither supported or opposed, and just 9 percent were opposed to the idea of an earlier presidential primary.

Detailed information on the poll, including toplines and crosstabs can be found here.

“Roughly a half-million New Hampshire voters participated in the presidential primaries in 2016,” said Raymond La Raja, professor of political science and associate director of the UMass Poll. “And they are prepared to fight and hold their first position in the nation’s primaries even against the possible challenge of California’s 25 million voters who want more say early in the nomination process.”

Looking at other election issues, 61 percent of New Hampshire voters said they worried a lot or some about a foreign government hacking or manipulating the 2020 elections in New Hampshire, while 38 percent said they were not worried. Voters who identified as Democrats or liberals indicated much more concern about election hacking than Republicans or conservatives, according to the poll results.

“While the nation’s intelligence agencies and both houses of the U.S. Congress have concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 election and will likely continue to do so, a majority of Trump voters, Republicans and conservatives express little concern for a renewed attack in 2020,” said Tatishe Nteta, associate professor of political science and director of the UMass Poll. “It seems as if President Trump’s attacks on the legitimacy of the Mueller investigation and the claims of Russia influence seem to have resonated with his base of voters.”

Ask to what extent they are worried about “fake news” affecting the 2020 election, 83 percent of all voters said they were worried a lot or some about it. By party affiliation, 81 percent of Democratic voters and 90 percent of Republican voters said they were concerned about “fake news” affecting the election.

“It’s shocking that more than eight in 10 New Hampshire voters are worried about fake news affecting the 2020 elections,” La Raja said. “This is an alarming sign about the lack of trust in sources of campaign information and the integrity of U.S. elections.”

The current mood of voters in the Granite State was also measured in the UMass Poll, with 46 percent of registered voters feeling more enthusiastic about the 2020 election when compared to the 2016 presidential contest. The poll finds clear partisan differences in the level of enthusiasm for 2020, with 63 percent of Democrats expressing heightened enthusiasm while less than half (48 percent) of Republicans are feeling more enthused about 2020.

Voters were also asked to name the one Democratic politician who they believe best embodies the values and ideals of the Democratic Party.  From a list of nine prominent Democratic leaders, that included Senator Elizabeth Warren, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Former Vice President Joe Biden finished with the most support at 25 percent, followed by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and first-term New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez each with 13 percent.

“Surprisingly for a party with progressive activists who want something fresh and bold, Biden is still seen as the candidate who embodies the ideals of the party in New Hampshire,” said La Raja. “He even runs even with politicians like Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders among working class and young voters.”

Nteta agreed, noting, “The 76-year-old veteran (Biden) of the Senate, two failed presidential bids and the vice presidency is considered by a third of Democrats as the embodiment of what the Democratic Party stands for in 2019.”

The UMass Poll, conducted online by YouGov Feb. 7-15, interviewed 600 registered voters in New Hampshire. The poll has a margin of error of 4.8 percent among all registered voters. Established in 2010, the UMass Poll has provided political polling for Massachusetts, New Hampshire and national races.