MANCHESTER, New Hampshire — A new New England College poll shows former Scott Brown back in the lead over incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) by a point and a half.
Brown is up 48.3 percent to Shaheen’s 46.8 percent in the poll of 1,132 likely voters statewide. The poll was conducted on Oct. 24, and has a margin of error of 2.91 percent.
Dr. Wayne Lesperance, New England College's director of the Center for Civic Engagement, attributed Brown’s success to narrowing Shaheen’s lead among women voters.
“A 1.5 percent margin is incredibly narrow and makes this race a statistical dead heat. Brown’s recent success comes from narrowing the lead Shaheen had with women to just under 5 percent,” Lesperance said.
Shaheen has attempted to reignite the “war on women” rhetoric that helped propel President Barack Obama to a second term over Republican Mitt Romney on the campaign trail.
This weekend, with Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Liz Warren (D-MA) at her side, Shaheen and Warren both pushed the “equal pay for equal work” Democratic Party talking points bill. The bill hasn't gained much traction on the campaign trail -- federal law already makes it illegal to pay women less than men, or engage in gender discrimination in the workplace.
In fact, CNN noted that the war on women attacks are less potent in 2014 and Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman Reince Priebus said in an interview with Breitbart News on Monday evening that Democrats like Shaheen look like “fools" pushing it.
“For the first time it’s about tied between men and women about whether you would choose a Republican or a Democrat as your member of Congress,” Priebus said. “You look at the paper in Colorado, the Denver Post, and the Union Leader in New Hampshire, and they basically conclude that the Democrats have been conning themselves on this issue. They're overplaying it so hard that no one can actually take it seriously. No one is interested in putting teenagers in jail and making sure no one buys contraception. No one buys it. It’s hyperbole that has gone beyond the pale, so they are making fools out of themselves. But in the process, they are exposing their own campaigns for not having a whole lot to talk about.”
Priebus also said that Democrats like Shaheen, who are unwilling to align themselves publicly with President Obama, are hurting their images on the campaign trail. In recent debates, Shaheen has refused to say whether she agrees with the administration and said Obama is “too busy in Washington” to campaign with her.
“It shows that obviously they’re not willing to stand up and lead and be accountable for the actions they took as senators and leaders in our country,” Priebus said. "But it also illustrates that the president is pretty ticked off. He’s actually watching this and he's going out there around the country doing the opposite and saying to local media that ‘hey wait a minute if Michelle Nunn wins in Georgia, then my policies are going to be able to continue.’ He went in the media and said all of these senators are in favor of my policies and he’s actually explaining to the country that people like Jeanne Shaheen are one of his top lieutenants. That division and that tension is playing itself out in front of the voters and they’re seeing it. I think obviously what it says is number one that any political consultant in America understands that being linked with Barack Obama and the foreign and domestic decline in this country is not a good place to be.”
In the first congressional district, Republican Frank Guinta—who’s been running a campaign focused on much of what Brown is talking about statewide—has taken a commanding 6.1 percent lead over incumbent Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH). The New England College poll puts him at 49 percent, whereas Shea-Porter is at 42.9 percent. That section of the poll surveyed 556 likely voters district-wide and has a 4.16 margin of error. That means Guinta’s well outside the margin of error.
Statewide, the poll found the governor’s race tightening to less a point. Incumbent Democrat Gov. Maggie Hassan still leads with 47.2 percent, but Republican Walt Havenstein is nipping at her heels with 46.9 percent of support.
“Hassan has maintained a consistent lead, but over the past week the race has become a toss-up," Lesperance said.
In the second congressional district, Republican Marilinda Garcia is struggling—remaining more than 7 points back behind incumbent Democrat Rep. Ann Kuster (D-NH). Kuster has 49.2 percent of the poll’s 576 likely voters from that district, compared to Garcia’s 42 percent. That district’s polling data margin of error is 4.08 percent.
"With about one week until Election Day, Garcia must find a game changer moment if she hopes to top Kuster,” Lesperance said of that race.
Lesperance said that the polling data also shows the debates have had little impact on voters’ decision-making process.
“These results appear to confirm conventional wisdom that debates change the minds of a relatively small number of voters,” Lesperance said. “However, in races that are very tight, just a few voters can make a big difference in the final outcome. A deeper look into the numbers reveals, unsurprisingly, that independents are more likely to be influenced by debates than registered Democrats and Republicans.”