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What we learned from the first way, way too early 2020 New Hampshire primary poll

Posted at 9:52 PM, Oct 18, 2017

We're still 1,112 days away from the next presidential election, but that isn't stopping your first look at what to expect in the New Hampshire primary.

A new poll from the University of New Hampshire -- more than two years before the primary will take place -- at least starts to give a landscape of the status quo before candidates start declaring their bids.

It's still really, really, really early to be talking about this, obviously. Neither President Donald Trump nor Sen. Bernie Sanders -- the two eventual winners of the New Hampshire primary -- were listed as options in this poll at this point in the 2016 cycle.

And we have a whole round of midterm elections coming in 2018, plus two important gubernatorial races in less than a month.

But the all-important New Hampshire primary, preceded by only the Iowa caucuses, gave Sanders momentum into the rest of the primary season and propelled Trump to his first victory. It matters.

So, here we go. Let's break it down.

The Republican side

While this survey didn't ask about specific primary contenders for a challenge to Trump, it does show some real warning signs for the President's re-election bid, which he has already declared and is campaigning for.

Only 47% of likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire say they are planning to vote for Trump in the 2020 primary election, while a quarter, 23%, say they plan to vote for another candidate. Three in 10, 30%, say they aren't sure.

Trump won the New Hampshire primary with 35% of the vote in February 2016.

When the same question was asked about former President Barack Obama in October 2009, nearly two-thirds, 64%, said they'd back him, while only 5% said they wanted to vote for someone else.

Of course, "someone else" always performs better in a poll than actual names of real-life contenders, though candidates such as Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse have been floated as potential challengers to Trump's re-election bid.

The Democratic side

The crowded future Democratic field is led by some familiar names.

A majority of Democratic primary voters in the Granite State say they're throwing their support behind independent Vermont Sen. Sanders at 31% and former Vice President Joe Biden at 24%.

From there, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren takes 13% and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker garners 6%. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, California Sen. Kamala Harris, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand each get 3% or less.

A broad 94% of Democratic primary voters say they are still trying to make up their minds.

The age of the frontrunners in the Democratic pack -- Biden would be 77 years old on Election Day and Sanders would be 79 -- has been a criticism from some Democrats encouraging some party leaders to clear the way for younger contenders and a fresh face for the party.

In an open-ended question on candidates, former first lady Michelle Obama, California Rep. Adam Schiff, businessman Mark Cuban, Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy and Massachusetts Rep. Joseph Kennedy III are also mentioned.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. In a comparable October 2013 poll by UNH, Hillary Clinton had 64% and Sanders was not included. Sanders won the New Hampshire primary by 22 percentage points.

This University of New Hampshire poll was conducted from October 3-15 among 191 likely Republican voters and 212 likely Democratic voters. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 6.7 percentage points for Democrats and plus or minus 7.1 for Republicans.