This New England College survey will likely garner a lot of attention today. But the race is so close that a one or two point advantage doesn’t mean all that much. What’s significant, however, is that two polls in two days demonstrate that the race has tightened considerably -- although Brown is now finally statistically ahead:
Three observations about the poll itself:
(1) President Obama is almost certainly weighing down Sen. Shaheen. While he might have captured New Hampshire twice in presidential elections, his approval ratings in the state are abysmal. Only 17 percent of respondents “highly approve” of the job he’s doing whereas 44 percent “highly disapprove. “ That’s a one-to-three ratio. If Brown does win, then, he can thank the president for turning out so many protest voters.
(2) Scott Brown is currently winning unenrolled/independents (47/43) and men (53/41) -- but still trails among women (43/52). These are similar findings to what we saw yesterday. With leaners, however, both candidates are earning roughly equal support from their respective parties. Eighty-four percent of Republicans support Brown whereas 86 percent of Democrats support Shaheen.
(3) Unlike most states, New Hampshire has gubernatorial elections every two years. How, then, will this race affect down-ballot candidates? Currently, Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan has a 5 point lead (49/44) over her Republican challenger. So pay close attention to this race. If it tightens, that could be very good news for Team Brown.
All that being said, NEC has had some sampling issues in the past -- so perhaps we should take these findings with a pinch of salt. But even if we do, it's safe to assume this race is still close -- much closer than Democrats would like.