PPP: Ayotte slips among New Hampshire moderates after Palin endorsement

Fair warning: If the news next week is as slow as it is this week, I’m moving to an all-Palin format.

And yes, that’s different from my current mostly-Palin format.

Most of the movement both in feelings about Ayotte and in the horse race has come with moderate voters. Moderates make up the largest bloc of the New Hampshire electorate at 47%, and Hodes’ lead with them has expanded from just 8 points at 47-39 in April to now 21 points at 51-30. Ayotte’s favorability with them has gone from +5 at 32/27 to -19 at 27/46.

The Palin endorsement may well be playing a role in this. 51% of voters in the state say they’re less likely to back a Palin endorsed candidate to only 26% who say that support would make them more inclined to vote for someone. Among moderates that widens to 65% who say a Palin endorsement would turn them off to 14% who it would make more supportive.

What’s most striking about the change in the Ayotte/Hodes numbers is that Hodes’ standing has not improved against any of the other Republicans running.

That last bit does suggest that Sarahcuda’s playing a factor. On the other hand: (1) As even lefty Marc Ambinder admits, it’s hard to draw firm conclusions from a single poll; (2) according to PPP, other numbers released tomorrow will show Ayotte enjoying a Palin-fueled bounce among Republican primary voters; (3) the Conservatives 4 Palin folks are correct in noting that The One’s endorsement is poisonous these days too. In fact, another PPP poll released two weeks ago showed Palin’s net endorsement effect at 30/51 and Obama’s almost identical at 32/49. Arguably that comparison’s unfair since The One’s still in office and apt to have his numbers fluctuate with events — surely his endorsement will be worth more if, a year from now, unemployment is two or three points lower — but in that case, we can compare Palin’s endorsement effect to Bill Clinton’s. PPP clocked him at 31/43; taken together, their numbers suggest that endorsements from polarizing political figures tend to motivate those who dislike them more than those who like them. Who knew?

The only surprise is that Ayotte was willing to risk bringing Palin into a race in a purple state, and even that’s not much of a surprise. Given how much the left hates her, the only place where her endorsement is an unvarnished asset is in a deep red one; that’s why scoring it was such a coup for Haley in South Carolina and why it’s a mixed bag here, where there are many more moderates to contend with. But of course, the moderates don’t matter unless you win the primary first, so Ayotte’s betting that she can surf the Palin brand to the nomination and then reposition for the general, with Sarahcuda making herself appropriately scarce before election day. Again, who’s surprised by this?