Is Republican Scott Brown tied with Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire? That’s what a new poll from CNN/ORC International indicates. It’s got the Granite State Senate race all locked up, 48 percent to 48 percent, with the election only seven weeks away.
Understandably, that’s made the Republican Party leadership pretty excited. Mr. Brown began the race as an underdog, given that he was a senator from Massachusetts and until recently remained a Massachusetts resident. Plus, he’s trying to oust an incumbent. So the degree of difficulty inherent in his attempt at a political comeback is high.
The Republican National Committee issued a press release highlighting this poll’s results, including its finding that, in New Hampshire, President Obama’s favorability ratings are a bit worse than his national average, with 38 percent of New Hampshire likely voters approving of Obama’s job performance and 60 percent disapproving.
“Obama Is A Drag On Shaheen In New Hampshire,” reads the RNC release’s title.
But here’s the kicker: There are three other new polls on the New Hampshire Senate race, and their results are all over the scatter plot. None of them match CNN/ORC’s findings.
Two are partisan surveys. A poll for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee conducted by Kiley & Company has Senator Shaheen ahead of Brown by 51 to 43 percent. A poll for the pro-Brown political action committee Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire has Brown ahead, 46 to 44.
Then there’s Rasmussen, an independent firm that uses automated polling methods. They’ve got Shaheen in front by 48 to 42 percent.
What’s all this mean? It probably indicates that Shaheen is still in the lead. At least, that’s what the big polling averagers say. The RealClearPolitics average of major surveys has Shaheen up by 3.5 percentage points, 47.3 to 43.8. The Huffington Post Pollster average has Shaheen ahead 48.1 to 42.4.
Now, it’s possible that CNN picked up on a movement toward Brown that Rasmussen missed for some reason. Polling for Senate races in individual states is not going to be nearly as definitive as big national surveys.
But the CNN poll also showed that Brown’s favorables are under water, with 46 percent of respondents rating him favorably, and 48 percent unfavorably. Shaheen’s ratings are more positive: 54 percent favorable, and 42 percent unfavorable.
A challenger whose personal numbers are not great, tied with an incumbent whose numbers are pretty good? That’s just weird, writes The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake on "The Fix" political blog.
But given the Democratic president’s unpopularity in New Hampshire, anything might happen here.
“Despite it all, it appears increasingly possible this will be a competitive race,” writes Mr. Blake.