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article imageScott Brown in 48-48 tie with incumbent Jeanne Shaheen

By Larry Clifton     Sep 16, 2014 in Politics
Concord - If Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown can pull it off, a win against incumbent New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Sheehan would provide a cushion for Republicans as they attempt to take control of the U.S. Senate in November.
According to the latest CNN/ORC poll of likely voters, Brown has even odds of doing just that. The CNN poll has the New Hampshire race tied with each candidate getting 48 percent of the vote. Brown, momentum on his side, has pulled even with the Democrat incumbent in a race that Democrats thought was in the bag.
Incumbent senators are difficult to defeat, but this year Shaheen and other Democrats must defend both their voting records and buck a strong headwind whipped up by their own incumbent president, Barack Obama. In New Hampshire, Pres. Obama’s approval rating is 38 percent and his disapproval rating is 60 percent. Meanwhile, Brown and Republican political allies have done a pretty good job of casting Shaheen as a rubber stamp for the administration.
Shaheen had a solid lead for months in New Hampshire as Brown fought his way back from Democrat political ads that cast him as a carpetbagger. Mr. Brown owns a home in New Hampshire but also owns one in Massachusetts where he was elected U.S. senator, taking the former seat of Massachusetts liberal icon Ted Kennedy.
Shaheen can take comfort in knowing that she is still 10 points ahead of Pres. Obama in the poll, however, having fallen behind the 50 percent margin is certainly not a good sign for an incumbent Senator who is facing a competitive opponent who recently served in the Senate himself.
Still, Brown needs to put more favorable polls in his quiver to convince political analysts that he is on equal footing with Shaheen. The power of incumbency means Democrats are willing to spend whatever they must to hang on in New Hampshire. Pres. Obama visited New Hampshire and met with Shaheen recently. Then came the CNN poll showing her support had dropped below the 50-percent mark, right where she did not want to be. Analysts say Shaheen must shake the image of rubber-stamp for the administration. With only 1 ½ months to go before the midterm elections, it may be difficult to separate her policies from Mr. Obama’s in the minds of voters.
CNN’s John King attributes Shaheen’s lackluster polling to “presidential drag,” while Ron Fournier notes that Brown is surging among younger voters:
“What we’re seeing here is what we’re seeing across the country,” political commentator Ron Fournier concludes, ” which is the President being an anvil to Democrats.” If that’s true in New Hampshire with a generally-liked incumbent, just imagine what it will look like in redder states and with less-popular incumbents in swing states.
If the CNN analyst is right, the political drag of an unpopular president may be much more pronounced in red states as the election draws near. Most polls already show Republicans maintaining control of the House of Representatives while gaining as many as 12 seats.
Similarly, Republicans are polling well in about 12 battleground senate races and political analysts on both sides of the aisle say the GOP can already count on winning three blue states including Montana, West Virginia, and South Dakota.
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