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Biden leads Trump by double digits in N.H., according to new Suffolk/Globe poll

A campaign sign for Joe Biden in the front yard of a home in Manchester, N.H.
A campaign sign for Joe Biden in the front yard of a home in Manchester, N.H.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Democratic nominee Joe Biden holds a sizable lead over President Trump in New Hampshire, raising the prospect of a November shellacking in a state the Republican just narrowly lost four years ago, according to a new poll from Suffolk University and the Globe.

Biden leads Trump 51 percent to 41 percent with 3 percent undecided, according to the survey of likely voters conducted Thursday through Monday, which found the president weighed down by broad disapproval among women and independents.

The numbers portend a potentially historic result in a traditional swing state. If Biden wins New Hampshire by more than 10 percentage points, it would be the biggest victory by a Democratic presidential nominee there since Lyndon B. Johnson’s 28-point win in 1964.

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The poll also found Republican Governor Chris Sununu and Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen poised to be reelected in blowouts.

In an unsettling year and a month full of twists, most voters indicated Trump’s early October surprise didn’t affect them. Some 78 percent of respondents said his positive COVID test and recovery did not change how likely they are to vote for him.

“I had made my mind up a long time ago,” said Megan Burleson, 34, an elementary school physical education teacher from Rindge, who is a Democrat and will be voting for Biden.

Republican Holly Robacher of Dover also knew she was voting for Trump long before absentee ballots began to be sent out about three weeks ago.

“Do I believe Trump is abrasive? Sure. But put a gray circle over his face and look at what he has accomplished as president and he gets my vote,” said Robacher, who works as a finance director at a local nonprofit.

Trump’s public handling of his own illness only reinforced to emergency room doctor David Benson why he would be voting against Trump.

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“His flaunting of everything health professionals are saying, especially the mask thing, drives me nuts,” said Benson, a 44-year-old who is among the estimated 78,500 New Hampshire voters who had already mailed in their ballots by midday Tuesday. (By way of comparison, there were 744,000 New Hampshire voters in the 2016 election.)

David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center, which conducted the survey, said the results don’t mean that New Hampshire is totally a lock for Biden. With 65 percent of those polled saying they will vote in person on Election Day, the state’s four Electoral College votes could be in play until the end, depending on any more campaign surprises.

“In my polling around the country, New Hampshire has a uniquely high percentage of people who plan to vote on Election Day. This means that, theoretically, the race here could still be fluid and react to any late-breaking developments,” he said.

When 41-year-old Democrat Marisa DiBiaso of North Hampton was asked why she planned on voting in person, she said, “It’s easier to just show up in person than to figure out all the steps on how to vote by mail.”

Biden isn’t the only candidate on the ballot with a large lead. Shaheen leads businessman Bryant “Corky” Messner, a Republican, 51 percent to 36 percent.

Sununu leads Democrat Dan Feltes, the state Senate majority leader, 55 percent to 31 percent.

Sununu’s lead stands out given his party affiliation on a ballot where Democrats otherwise look on track to trounce their competitors. New Hampshire Democrats have continually tried to tie Sununu to Trump, whom Sununu has endorsed for reelection.

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Politically that strategy makes sense given that the poll found only 40 percent of likely voters have a generally favorable opinion of Trump, while 55 have an unfavorable view of him. But state Democrats’ strategy doesn’t seem to be working. The poll found a majority of the state’s non-party-affiliated voters and even 21 percent of Democrats voting for Sununu.

Among the ticket-splitting Democrats who are voting for Biden, Shaheen, and Sununu is 27-year-old nursing assistant Avian Jackson of Manchester.

“Sununu seems like a nice guy and not like Trump at all,” said Jackson. “[Sununu] especially handled the coronavirus better than Trump did.”

Bill Gard, 77, a retired insurance executive from Meredith who cut his lifelong ties to the Republican Party during the Trump presidency, put it this way: “I have no reason in the world to throw Sununu out and every reason to throw Trump out."

The survey also delved into issues beyond the horse race.

In the “Live Free or Die” state, where not even a seat belt is required for adults, half of poll respondents said Sununu should immediately require residents to wear a mask or face covering in public when they cannot socially distance. However, the state was largely split along partisan lines. Among Democrats, 84 percent supported a mask mandate, while 61 percent of Republicans said either that there should be no mask mandate or that it should be up to local communities rather than the state.

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The poll of 500 likely voters had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points. The poll was conducted by live operators calling respondents on landlines and mobile phones.

Other recent polls have found similar results in the presidential race. The Real Clear Politics average of New Hampshire polls shows Biden with an 11-point lead, up considerably from his statistical tie with Trump in a New York Times/Siena College poll in September.

Biden’s strong position can be explained in part by his large leads among women, the young, and unaffiliated voters — those not registered with a party — the data show.

The former vice president has a 19-point lead among women, for example.

Biden’s strength in New Hampshire is particularly notable because he has largely ignored the state, while his opponent and his allies have made it a focus.

Trump and Vice President Mike Pence both made New Hampshire stops in the last two months.

While Jill Biden and Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have hit the state to stump on his behalf recently, Joe Biden has not campaigned in New Hampshire since February. His running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, hasn’t campaigned there in more than a year.

But New Hampshire voters seem to be receptive to the messages coming from Biden’s campaign, which has run on the theme of restoring “the soul of America.”

The survey offered respondents 10 issues and asked them which one is the most important facing the next president. A plurality of Republicans said it was jobs and the economy. A plurality of Democrats said it was COVID-19. But a plurality of unaffiliated voters said the biggest issue facing the next president was “bringing the country together.”

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“We are seeing this increasingly around the country with people saying we need to heal a deeply politically divided nation after the events of the last three years,” said Paleologos, of the Suffolk University Political Research Center.


James Pindell can be reached at james.pindell@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell.