Pollster: The Senate Race in NH is "Breathtakingly Close"

Posted: Oct 14, 2014 12:30 PM

So close, in fact, Democrats might actually be nervous.

A freshly-published High Point/SurveyUSA poll has finally delivered the news Republicans in New Hampshire were waiting for. After a batch of new polling suggested the race was getting away from Scott Brown, the High Point University poll puts the contest firmly in contention.

Incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) still leads her opponent modestly (48/46) -- but her two-point advantage is statistically meaningless. According to the write-up, the pollsters describe Shaheen's edge as “narrow” -- and the race itself “breathtakingly close” -- mere weeks before Election Day. The findings can be condensed into this one sentence: “Brown holds 91% of the Republican base, Shaheen holds 91% of the Democratic base. Independents split.”

Ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a race.

But there are other reasons for Republicans to be optimistic. While Shaheen’s job approval rating is higher than the president’s (41/54) in the state, it’s still underwater (47/48). At the same time, 43 percent of respondents say they are “worse off” financially than a year ago and 63 percent say the country is on the “wrong track.” In an election year that is expected to be very tough for incumbents, these numbers suggest turnout could be even higher than expected -- a boon to candidates like Scott Brown.

Nevertheless, despite her approval rating, Shaheen is snagging self-described moderates (57/38) and women (53/41) by double digits. Appealing to more moderates and women, therefore, could put her over the top. I assume this is why her campaign is making “despicable” claims that Brown (a pro-choice Republican) is insensitive to women’s issues.

We’ll see how this race ultimately shakes out. But if this poll isn’t an outlier, we can say one thing with certainty: Sen. Shaheen's seat is no longer safe.