Kelly Ayotte's Election Day mission: Outperform Donald Trump
KEENE– It was 8:30am and Kelly Ayotte had already been on the campaign trail for three hours.
New Hampshire’s Republican U.S. senator on Monday kicked off what her campaign touted as a 24 hour swing concluding her 50 stops in the final five days leading up to Election Day.
“Good Morning. Good to see you,” Ayotte greeted customers at Lindy’s Diner.
Fifteen hours later, NH1 News caught up with Ayotte again, as she talked with employees and customers at TA travel center and truck stop in Greenland, her 24th stop of the day.
While her Democratic challenger Gov. Maggie Hassan has very busy crisscrossing the Granite State, Ayotte’s been working overtime the past couple of weeks as she fights for a second term in the U.S. Senate.
Ayotte doesn’t really have a choice.
She has to outperform the man at the top of her party’s ticket, GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.
And Ayotte’s done just that in many of the most recent public opinion surveys in the Granite State. In the two final polls, by the University of New Hampshire and by Emerson College, Ayotte outperformed Trump among likely voters by four and five points.
According to the final NH1 News Poll of Polls, which averaged the last six public opinion surveys, Ayotte was running four points ahead of Trump.
“I think she has to run six to seven points ahead” of Trump, former state attorney general and nationally renowned Concord based Republican consultant Tom Rath told NH1 News.
Rath, who served as a top adviser to Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, and who was a key member in Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s bid for the GOP nomination, is a big supporter of Ayotte, but doesn’t have any formal role in her re-election campaign.
Rath said that if Trump loses New Hampshire by five to seven points, it’s “a gray area” for Ayotte.
Ayotte long kept her distance from Trump, saying she’d vote for him but not endorse him. But she broke with Trump after the emergence last month of an eleven year old recording of Trump using extremely lewd language towards women and boasting that his celebrity allowed him to physically abuse women. The video rocked the race for the White House and a day after it went viral, Ayotte declared she’d no longer vote for Trump but instead write in the name of his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.
While Hassan enjoys strong backing from Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and the support of the state Democratic Party’s coordinated campaign, which includes 27 field offices across New Hampshire, in many ways Ayotte’s campaigning on her own with little help from the NHGOP.
“Having another source of organization and turnout would have been very helpful,” Rath said.
But he said there’s a plus side for Ayotte.
“You gotta take that as a blessing and say ‘I’m myself. I’m my own independent person’,’ Rath surmised.
“it’s been liberating to her. I think she’s had a great week. I don’t think there’s a single other United States senator up for re-election that could do what Kelly Ayotte’s done,” Rath continued. “In the last two weeks she’s done everything she could have possibly done. She’s just worked her butt off.”
But the big question is will all that hard work be enough.