Voters in New Hampshire went to the polls this cycle to participate in their second primary – this time, the consequences were perhaps even greater than selecting a Presidential candidate. New Hampshire is one of eleven states that will choose a governor this election cycle. During the pandemic, many Governors were criticized by the public and their own legislative leaders as they exercised unilateral authority and issued Stay at Home orders and lock-downs on businesses. This primary offered voters to the right of the Governor the opportunity to rebuke him and replace him in the general election. But that was not to be the case: Yesterday, Governor Sununu defeated Karen Testerman in the Republican Primary by a whopping 80 points, demonstrating that his actions during the pandemic had the clear support of New Hampshire Republicans. The core focus of Testerman’s campaign – and her central message – was a blistering critique of the Governor’s Stay at Home order and the additional orders that closed businesses and mandated safety protocols. But it never picked up steam. And with the state enjoying one of the lowest COVID-19 rates in the country – and most of the economy open again – voters overwhelmingly chose to support the Governor and the tough decisions he made earlier this year. In fact, the Governor has a 70% approval rating, according to the results of a UNH poll released on September 2.
The Democratic gubernatorial primary was a much closer fight between State Senator Dan Feltes and Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky. Feltes has secured a win, albeit by a thin margin. He took The Pledge during the primary (for folks unfamiliar: those candidates who take The Pledge promise to oppose efforts to implement an income tax or other broad-based taxes), wants to commit the state to 100% clean energy by 2050, increase government transparency and limit types of political contributions. Feltes has also released multiple policy proposals surrounding the state’s response on COVID-19, including a plan for reopening schools – Feltes has condemned the Governor’s decision to let individual districts determine how to reopen safely.
The Feltes campaign will need to find multiple cracks in the Governor’s armor as this race is currently not a race at all. Crystal Ball and Cook Report project the New Hampshire gubernatorial race as Likely Republican and Governor Sununu has maintained huge leads in polls – anywhere from +40 to +24 – on Feltes since May.
Want to know more about the 2020 elections? Contact Meghan Holihan