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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Obama holds solid lead over Romney among NH voters, according to poll

CONCORD – President Barack Obama has maintained a solid but not overwhelming lead in New Hampshire against presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, according to an independent poll released Monday night.

A bellweather warning to the Obama camp, however, is that more New Hampshire residents (52 percent) believe the country is headed in the wrong direction compared to those who think it’s on the right track (42 percent) under Obama, according to the Granite State poll done for WMUR-TV.

Obama led Romney with 51 percent support compared to 42 percent for Romney, 2 percent for someone else and the other 5 percent were undecided in the telephone poll done from April 9-20.

The results from 538 interviews have a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percent.

University of New Hampshire Survey Center Director Andrew Smith said Romney’s been hurt by a divisive GOP primary that pushed the former Massachusetts governor to court the right wing.

“The Republican nomination process has weakened Romney in his backyard,” Smith said. “He will have to consolidate support in New Hampshire and other battleground states if he hopes to defeat Obama in November.”

Obama had stonger support among his party base than Romney did and he led, 40 percent to 35 percent, among the critical bloc of independent voters who make up four in 10 New Hampshire registrants.

Still, slightly more disapproved (50 percent) of the job Obama has done in handling the economy to those who approved (47 percent).

The national health care law remains even less popular than Obama’s job performance in New Hampshire, with 46 percent not liking it to the 36 percent who said they did.

Obama’s foreign affairs standing was much stronger than his domestic profile with 54 percent approving of the job he’s done there compared to 40 percent who disapproved.

The right track-wrong direction question is often used by political campaigns this far out from an election to determine how close the race should be.

The results give Romney’s campaign some encouragement but for Obama the picture is better than last October when a record 70 percent said the country was on the wrong track.

In an unrelated poll also put out Monday, the New Hampshire Bankers Association report business owners expect to see a flat-to-expanding economy over the next year.

The UNH survey of 401 New Hampshire businesses that found more owners saw things getting noticeably better (30 percent) here than nationally (20 percent).

These owners reported economic uncertainty, decline in consumer spending, health insurance and federal regulations as the most pressing challenges to future economic growth. Access to credit and federal taxes were next in line.

“The survey confirms that New Hampshire’s banking industry continues to meet the credit needs of businesses across the state,” said NHBA President Christiana Thornton in a statement.

For those who sought bank credit, 62 percent of owners said they got what they asked for, 12 percent got part of what they wanted and 26 percent said they were denied.

More than half – 52 percent – of business owners said sales and profits will grow in the next year and 31 percent said they expect to add employees.

Kevin Landrigan can reached at 321-7040 or Also, follow Landrigan @KLandrigan on Twitter.