After the slightly embarrassing mishap last week (a Brown staffer evidently forgot to check the ‘Republican’ box when filling out paperwork so his/her boss could legally run for Senate in New Hampshire), things are starting to look up. In a recent poll acquired exclusively by the Weekly Standard, the ex-Massachusetts Senator is perhaps polling higher than many of us expected:
Republican Scott Brown leads incumbent Democratic senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire by five points in a recent poll obtained by THE WEEKLY STANDARD. The poll, commissioned by the Republican Governor's Association, was conducted on March 19 and 20 and asked 600 likely voters in New Hampshire who they would vote for in the U.S. Senate election. Respondents were given both Brown and Shaheen's names and their respective parties.
According to the poll, 36 percent said they would "definitely" vote for Brown, the former senator from Massachusetts, while 13 percent said they would "probably" vote for him, bringing his total support to 49 percent. The same poll found 37 percent said they would "definitely" vote for Shaheen with 6 percent saying they would "probably" vote for her, with a total of 44 percent in support of the incumbent Democrat. Seven percent said they did not know who they would vote for.
There are a few issues with the sample, naturally. For starters, my headline is perhaps a bit deceptive. Yes, a higher percentage of total respondents said they’ll either “definitely” or “probably” vote for Scott Brown -- which gives him that top-line “49 percent” number you see above -- but that doesn’t necessarily mean all of them will. In fact, more voters actually said they would “definitely” vote for Shaheen than would “definitely” vote for Brown. So that’s something to keep in mind.
Secondly, the poll was conducted by the Republican Governors Association; therefore one could reasonably assume the poll is heavily skewed in favor of the GOP candidate. But alas there’s no way to tell: if one dives into the survey itself, there’s no data explaining the D/R/I breakdown -- an important measurement we often use to sniff out partisan bias. Sure, we know 600 likely voters filled out the survey, but what political parties did they belong to or “lean” towards? How many respondents were non-affiliated likely voters? We don’t know. Still, the question must be asked: is this survey an outlier, or evidence the race has swung in Brown’s favor after trailing in the polls for so long?
We’ll need to see much more polling data to answer that question. And Brown still needs to officially declare, of course. But suffice it to say this is going to be a competitive race after Brown wins the Republican primary.
That is, if he does.
Nothing in politics is certain.