Kelly Ayotte Doesn’t Seem Affected By Donald Trump, Polls Suggest

Despite a rough week dealing with the top of her ticket, it looks like Sen. Kelly Ayotte is still in the race.

The latest New Hampshire polls show her statistically tied with Democratic challenge Gov. Maggie Hassan.

In a Friday morning poll from WBUR/MassInc, Ayotte and Hassan were tied at 47 percent each with 6 percent undecided. Another poll from UMass Lowell/7 News had Ayotte up by one point — 45 to 44 percent, respectively, with 6 percent undecided.

The polls are the first to come out after the Friday release of a lewd video, which shows Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump saying crude comments about women.

Ayotte has received a lot of criticism from media and Democrats because she previously supported, but did not endorse Trump. She walked a fine line between promoting herself as an independent voice in the Granite State, yet appealing to Trump’s base.

However, on Saturday, she withdrew her support, saying she “cannot and will not support a candidate for president who brags about degrading and assaulting women.”

“He’s talking about assault of women, and I thought about years from now when my daughter, Kate, is old enough to know what is in those tapes and understand what he is talking about, I want her to know where I stood,” she said at a Sunday press conference. “I want my daughter to know that that is more important to me than winning any election.”

Hassan’s campaign was quick to jump on the opportunity, calling her decision to abandon Trump  a “political calculation.”

“We have known for years the type of man Donald Trump is — a disgusting sexist who degrades women and openly admits that he does not treat them with respect,” said Hassan campaign spokesperson Meira Bernstein in a statement. “Yet, Kelly Ayotte cravenly continued to stand by him to try to save her political career.”

Ayotte also made a gaffe last week in a NECN debate when she said Trump could “absolutely” be a role model for children. She later tried to walk back the statement, saying she “misspoke.”

While Democrats have trounced Ayotte for playing politics with her support, several of Ayotte’s voters were also upset that she didn’t stand by the Republican presidential nominee.

She’s in a tight pickle as she tries to keep her party’s base happy, yet also appeal to the undeclared voters who often decide New Hampshire elections.

But in the WBUR/7 News poll, 61 percent of respondents said Ayotte made the right decision when she withdrew her support.

And she’s doing better among independents, according to the UMass Lowell/MassInc poll. While support for both candidates largely follow party lines, with 84 percent of Republicans in favor of Ayotte and 88 percent of Democrats for Hassan, Ayotte is getting 46 percent of independent support compared to Hassan’s 24 percent. About 20 percent of the people who identified as independent are undecided.

Even the left-leaning Public Policy Polling/American for Responsible Solutions survey released Wednesday had Hassan at 44 percent to Ayotte’s 43 percent.

Ayotte is also performing better than Trump in the WBUR/7 News and UMass Lowell/MassInc polls. In the former poll, she is at 47 percent to Trump’s 38 percent. She also has a higher favorability than Trump — 44 percent to 34 percent, respectively.

In the latter poll, Ayotte leads Trump, 45 percent to 39 percent, respectively. It remains to be seen how the top of the ticket is impacting down-ballot races, but these recent polls suggest many voters don’t see Trump dragging down Ayotte’s voter base.

Ayotte and Hassan are set to square off in a WGIR debate on Friday morning.

Author: Kyle Plantz

Kyle Plantz is a reporter with NH Journal.

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