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N.H. representative’s ratings drop in survey

Demographics cited as GOP’s Bass falls in poll

By Holly Ramer
Associated Press / May 7, 2011

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CONCORD, N.H. — A new poll suggests New Hampshire voters are starting to sour on at least one of the Republicans they elected to Congress in November, Representative Charlie Bass.

The WMUR Granite State poll shows a sharp shift in the Second Congressional District, where the percentage of those with a favorable opinion of Bass has dropped from 41 percent in February to 29 percent late last month. At the same time, the percentage with an unfavorable opinion of Bass grew from 28 percent to 45 percent.

Pollster Andrew Smith attributed much of Bass’s drop to the district’s demographics — it tends to lean more Democratic than the First District — and to the fact that Ann McLane Kuster, the Democrat Bass defeated by fewer than 4,000 votes in November, is already rebuilding her campaign. Bass had regained the seat he held for 12 years before being ousted along with other Republicans in 2006.

“It’s as though the campaign never ended,’’ said Smith, director of the UNH Survey Center.

Smith said it is telling that the percentage of conservatives with a favorable opinion of Bass has dropped from 56 percent in February to 39 percent.

“He’s out of a step a bit with the Republican leadership and with the dynamics of the Republican Party nationwide,’’ Smith said. “He’s a moderate, New England Republican, and that fits in with the district in most times.’’ But now, Republicans are looking for somebody to go after Obama, whom they blame for a bad economy.

“Bass is just not that kind of red-meat conservative to get them enthusiastic,’’ he said.

The poll was conducted April 15-26, just after Bass and First District Representative Frank Guinta helped pass a GOP budget plan that would replace Medicare with a government payment to buy private insurance. That provision has stirred opposition around the country, and both Bass and Guinta faced criticism at recent town hall meetings.

Public opinion of Guinta, however, hasn’t eroded to the same degree as it has for Bass. The percentage of adults holding a favorable opinion of him was 31 percent in the latest poll, about even with the February results.

The telephone poll of 504 adults had a sampling margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points overall, and 6 percentage points for subgroups.