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Presidential nominee Donald Trump waded into New Hampshire’s U.S. Senate race this week, claiming he is doing better than fellow Republican Kelly Ayotte in statewide polls.
"You have a Kelly Ayotte, who doesn’t want to talk about Trump, but I’m beating her in the polls by a lot," Trump told the Washington Post in an interview on Aug. 2. "I don’t know Kelly Ayotte. I know she’s given me no support, zero support, and yet I’m leading her in the polls."
Do the numbers bear that out? We took a closer look.
Of course, the Republican businessman is running for president, not against Ayotte for Senate. But we interpreted his comment as saying he is having a better showing in polls in New Hampshire.
Trump didn’t name any specific polls in his interview, and his campaign did not provide source material or respond to a request for comment. So we looked at their favorability ratings among the state’s voters, and also examined how tight their races are in New Hampshire.
We turned to RealClearPolitics.com, which tracks polling data and calculates an average of the most recent voter surveys.
The site’s New Hampshire presidential polling average showed that on Aug. 2, when Trump made the comment, Democrat Hillary Clinton led the businessman in the state, 43.25 percent to 40.5 percent, a margin of nearly three percentage points.
By contrast, the RealClearPolitics.com polling average for the state’s U.S. Senate race showed that Ayotte was virtually tied with Democrat Gov. Maggie Hassan, 45.8 to 45.2 percent, on the same day.
Those averages have since changed slightly. WBUR released a new poll two days after Trump’s interview that showed both Democrats widening their leads in New Hampshire. Clinton led Trump by 15 percentage points, the new survey showed, while Hassan led Ayotte by 10.
So, not only is Trump not "beating (Ayotte) in the polls by a lot," he’s not beating her in the polls at all. Ayotte is doing better than Trump in New Hampshire.
Just to be extra careful, we also checked to see whether there was a period in which Trump was performing better against Clinton than Ayotte was against Hassan but couldn’t find one in the RealClearPolitics.com archive.
How about favorability ratings, which show how warmly voters feel towards a candidate, rather than whether they would or would not vote for them in an election matchup?
The most recent WMUR Granite State Poll, released in late July, showed that Trump had a net favorability of negative 29 percent, while Ayotte scored a positive two percent net favorability rating. (Net favorability refers to the candidate’s favorability score minus his or her unfavorability score.)
Specifically, the survey found 32 percent of New Hampshire voters had a favorable view of Trump, while 61 percent had an unfavorable opinion of the businessman. Six percent were neutral.
And the poll showed that 42 percent of state voters had a favorable opinion of Ayotte, 40 percent had an unfavorable view, seven percent were neutral and 11 percent didn’t know enough to say.
The WBUR poll, released on August 4 after Trump’s comment, showed similar patterns. Twenty-nine percent of New Hampshire voters had a favorable view of Trump, it found, while 60 percent had an unfavorable opinion, with 10 percent are undecided.
The same poll showed 42 percent of New Hampshire voters had a favorable view of Ayotte, compared to 38 percent who had an unfavorable opinion. Sixteen percent were undecided and three percent hadn’t heard of her or refused to answer.
So the two recent polls showed that Ayotte’s favorability rating in the Granite State was far higher than Trump’s.
Trump said he is beating Ayotte in the polls "by a lot." However, Ayotte recent surveys have shown that New Hampshire voters view Ayotte more favorably than Trump. The polls also indicate that Ayotte is locked in a closer race against her Democratic challenger than Trump.
We rate Trump’s claim Pants on Fire.
Washington Post, Donald Trump transcript: The Republican nominee in his own words, August 2, 2016.
Phone interview with Wayne Lesperance, Political Science professor at New England College, August 4, 2016.
Real Clear Politics, New Hampshire: Trump vs. Clinton, August 4, 2016.
Real Clear Politics, New Hampshire Senate - Ayotte vs. Hassan, August 4, 2016.
WBUR, WBUR Poll: After Conventions, Clinton Up 15 Points Over Trump In New Hampshire, August 4, 2016.
University of New Hampshire Survey Center, Trump and Clinton Tied; Both Candidates Unpopular In New Hampshire, July 21, 2016.
University of New Hampshire Survey Center, Ayotte and Hassan Remain Deadlocked in NH Senate Race, July 20, 2016.
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