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Thursday, January 16, 2014
Poll finds NH’s Shaheen, Brown evenly matched if Senate race takes place

CONCORD – The potential U.S. Senate showdown between Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen and former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, of Rye, is a virtual dead heat, according to the independent poll of a national firm that works for Democrats.

Shaheen clings to a 46-43 percent lead over Brown, which is just outside the 2.7 percent margin of error for the poll done by Public Policy Polling, of Raleigh, N.C. ...

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CONCORD – The potential U.S. Senate showdown between Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen and former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, of Rye, is a virtual dead heat, according to the independent poll of a national firm that works for Democrats.

Shaheen clings to a 46-43 percent lead over Brown, which is just outside the 2.7 percent margin of error for the poll done by Public Policy Polling, of Raleigh, N.C.

PPP President Tom Jensen said the race looked very much like it did for the organization’s last poll in September.

The results of the survey, however, posed challenges for both of them.

In horse race runoffs, Shaheen buried by double digits the other GOP challengers: former state Sen. Jim Rubens, of Hanover; Franklin activist Karen Testerman; and Andy Martin.

And Shaheen’s favorable view among likely voters crests well above President Barack Obama and remains solid despite more than $500,000 in attack ads from Brown-supportive groups.

“The people of New Hampshire know Jeanne Shaheen,” said Harrell Kirstein, communications director for the New Hampshire Democratic Party. “As their governor and now as their U.S. senator, Jeanne Shaheen puts New Hampshire first and works for common-sense solutions that make a difference for people here.

“Billionaire oil barons are pouring more than $550,000 into attack ads here aimed at getting their senator, Scott Brown, into the race so he can once again protect their interests in the Senate. The people of New Hampshire aren’t buying it.”

But New Hampshire GOP State Chairwoman Jennifer Horn, of Nashua, said any incumbent who has less than 50 percent support in an election year is vulnerable.

“Voters are fed up with her decades of failed leadership, her blind allegiance to her party leadership and her decision to vote with Barack Obama over 96 percent of the time,” Horn said in a statement. “Shaheen knows that this poll is a disaster for her flailing reelection campaign, and she knows that its the surest sign yet that she is going to lose in November.”

Americans for Prosperity, a fiscally conservative interest group, has spent more than $700,000 on television and radio ads critical of Shaheen for supporting the Affordable Care Act.

“This will be the pivotal issue for the coming year, and those individuals who support Obamacare will be held accountable by the public for their stance,” said Greg Moore, AFP’s state director.

For Brown, the poll’s warning signs are that Republican primary voters are less inclined to support his profile – someone who just moved to the state, supports a ban on assault weapons and would not vote to repeal the Roe vs. Wade protections for women to have legal abortions.

“We also found potential signs of trouble for Brown ahead if he decides to get into the race, though,” PPP’s Jensen said.

That said, Brown would easily win a GOP primary over the declared candidates should he decide to enter the race, with 42 percent to 11 percent each for former New Hampshire Sen. Bob Smith and Martin, 8 percent for Rubens and 7 percent for Testerman.

“With a Democratically leaning pollster, this should help make the case that Scott Brown should enter this race,” Moore said.

The same poll found first-term Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, in much stronger shape, with voters holding a favorable view by nearly a 2-1 margin, 52-27 percent.

Hassan beats four potential GOP challengers by at least 20 percentage points each. The only one actively exploring the race, Andrew Hemingway, of Bristol, trails Hassan 51-25 percent.

Kevin Landrigan can reached at
321-7040 or klandrigan@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Landrigan on Twitter (@Klandrigan).