Republican Scott Brown’s campaign for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire is gaining steam after a poll released Thursday night showed the former Massachusetts U.S. senator in a statistical dead heat against incumbent U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. But political analysts see Brown’s gains as more of an indictment on President Barack Obama than Brown’s campaign tactics.
The WMUR Granite State Poll telephone poll of 827 adults conducted Aug. 7-17 by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center showed Shaheen leading Brown 46 percent to 44 percent and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. Results compiled from the 609 likely voters in the sample carry a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. The survey, which was sponsored by WMUR-TV, was conducted by both landline and cellular phone.
Just a month ago in the same poll, Shaheen was leading Brown 50 percent to 38 percent -- a 12-point lead -- which was her biggest advantage since the Granite State Poll tracked the U.S. Senate race in New Hampshire in January. The diminishing lead was attributed to Obama’s unpopularity, according to the poll.
“Shaheen has long been popular in New Hampshire, and she has led Brown throughout the spring and summer, but her campaign is being weighed down by national politics, particularly the declining popularity of President Obama,” UNH Survey Center's Andrew E. Smith and Zachary S. Azem, wrote.
Smith, a political science professor at the University of New Hampshire who also serves as director of the survey center, explained to the Boston Globe newspaper how national politics helped to shape the poll’s findings.
“I think it’s an Obama drag,” he said. “Neither Brown nor Shaheen had any control of that; they’re just at the mercy of what’s happening nationally.”
Brown, who failed to maintain his Massachusetts Senate seat after being defeated by Elizabeth Warren in 2012, still hasn’t locked down the GOP nomination in New Hampshire. The Republican primary is scheduled for Sept. 9, but Brown is expected to easily win the contest.