DURHAM — Suddenly, a potential general election match-up between Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Republican former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown is a statistical toss-up, according to the latest New Hampshire poll.
A WMUR Granite State Poll conducted by the UNH Survey Center Aug. 7 to 17 shows Brown has virtually caught Shaheen after trailing by as many as 12 percentage points as recently as early July.
The poll of 827 “randomly selected New Hampshire adults” and 609 self-identified likely voters has Shaheen leading, 46 to 44 percent, with 9 percent undecided, but the margin of error is 3.4 percent among the larger sampling. In July, Shaheen led Brown, 50 to 38 percent.
For the new poll report, click here.
For the July 9 poll report, click here.
The poll suggests the complexion of the race has changed dramatically from one in which Shaheen was the clear frontrunner to one that is up for grabs, despite Shaheen apparently continuing to be substantially more popular than Brown.
The numbers are sure to intensify the rhetoric on both sides – if that is possible – and draw even more outside groups into the battle, especially after the Sept. 9 primary.
The numbers suggest that Brown and the state GOP have been effective in their recent attacks on Shaheen on immigration/border security and her failure to hold traditional town halls for more than 700 days. The numbers also show that Shaheen is being effectively linked by Brown and the GOP to President Barack Obama, whose approval rating in the state is at an all-time low.
The poll shows 59 percent disapprove of the job Obama is doing as President, while 37 percent approve.
Shaheen, who has been stressing her work on behalf of Granite Staters and specific constituencies – such as women, students and veterans — rather than broad national issues, remains more popular than Obama — and than Brown.
She receives a favorable rating from 48 percent, while 36 disapprove. That compares to 57 percent favorable and 29 percent unfavorable in July.
Brown’s favorable/unfavorable rating is still under water, but has improved. Now, 38 percent disapprove of him, while 36 percent approve; in July, 40 percent had an unfavorable view of him, while 31 percent viewed him favorably.
There is still a wide gender gap: Brown leads among men who are likely voters, 49 to 40 percent and Shaheen leads among women likely to vote, 53 to 39 percent.
Brown has also improved his standing among members of his own party. In July only 73 percent of Republicans said they would vote for him, now he is supported by 84 percent.
Shaheen remains enormously popular in her own party, with support from 90 percent of Democrats.
She leads among registered independents, 49 to 39 percent, while among those who identify as independents, Brown leads 40 to 35 percent.
Brown, of course, must win the Sept. 9 primary. The poll shows Shaheen leading former Sen. Bob Smith 50 to 36 percent and former state Sen. Jim Rubens, 49 to 35 percent.
The poll does not contain a primary matchup among the three Republicans.
Also, the race remains fluid, with 60 percent of those polled saying they have not yet definitely decided who they will support between Shaheen and Brown, while 27 percent have definitely decided.
The polling sample is likely to be dissected by each side. According to the UNH Survey Center, 50 percent of the sampling are registered independents, or undeclared; while 26 percent are Republicans and 24 percent are Democrats.
At the same time, 37 percent of those polled identified themselves as independents, while 36 identified as Republicans and 27 percent identified as Democrats.
The Shaheen campaign said in a statement:
“Despite more than $3.5 million in dishonest and negative attacks from the Koch Brothers, Big Oil and other special interests that want Scott Brown back in the Senate voting to protect their special breaks, Jeanne Shaheen is still leading all of her potential opponents because Granite State voters know and trust her. We’ve been ready for a competitive race since day one and we are running the kind of grassroots campaign that New Hampshire deserves, correcting every one of Big Oil’s dishonest attacks along the way. This race will come down to who makes a difference for people in New Hampshire and Jeanne Shaheen’s record is clear. She puts New Hampshire first and always has, while Scott Brown is for Scott Brown and the special interests who line his pockets and fund his campaigns.”
But state Republican Party Chair Jennifer Horn said, “New Hampshire voters are souring on Jeanne Shaheen because she has been an absentee senator who ignores her constituents and votes with President Obama 99 percent of the time. She has disregarded New Hampshire’s tradition of open and accessible government by refusing to hold any town hall meetings to defend her deciding vote for Obamacare and her blind support the failed Obama-Shaheen border security policies. Granite Staters know that Jeanne Shaheen has not earned another term in the Senate, and they are clearly ready to replace her with a responsible Republican in November.”