Oct 29, 2014 6:12 PM

Paul Steinhauser: As Halloween nears, a scary battle between Shaheen and Brown

Source: NH1 Political Director - NH1.com

CONCORD - Call it the fear factor.

The past couple of weeks Republican Senate nominee Scott Brown's been highlighting issues such issues as the Ebola virus, ISIS, and border security. And it's no surprise that those issues have been dominating the national headlines lately.

"I speak to the citizens of New Hampshire, there is a rational fear that this and other diseases will come into our country," Brown said last Thursday night about Ebola concerns here at home, which dominated the first 15 minutes of an NH1/CNN debate.

"We should not be fear mongering about this issue," responded Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

Such talk keeps coming up on the campaign trail.

"What she calls fear mongering I call ration fear as well as the citizens of New Hampshire call rational fear," Brown told NH1 Wednesday in Concord.

"I appreciate that people are concerned about that threat but the question is what do responsible leaders do about that," fired back Shaheen, at a campaign event in Manchester.

Shaheen's campaign Wednesday touted an editorial piece in the Washington Post that charged that, "Mr. Brown has been trying lately to claw his way into office by scaring the bejesus out of voters."

Asked about the criticism from the Washington Post, Brown said "I think not only the Washington Post but also Sen. Shaheen should spend more time speaking to the people of New Hampshire," adding that people are talking to me about the border, about Ebola, they're talking to me about what's happening in Canada, what's happening in New York."

Shaheen responded later in the day, telling NH1 that "the disagreement that my opponent and I have is that he is trying to use that fear, to play on it, to exacerbate it for his own political gain."

Granite Staters are paying attention to news about the deadly virus. Forty-six percent of New Hampshire adults questioned in a recent WMUR/Granite State survey by the University of New Hampshire said they were very closely following the latest developments, with another 46% saying they were somewhat closely paying attention.

That could impact the Senate election. The latest public opinion surveys in the race, including an NH1 Poll by New England College, indicate that the race is tied up. And a leading New Hampshire political analyst says fear can make a difference in a close contest

"Certainly whenever there's fear it tends to get people in their cars and get them to the polls and it's a motivating factor. So you've got to try point these things out to voters if you want to get your supporters to the polls," said Neil Levesque, executive director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College.

And that can be crucial in midterm election contests, which are often all about energizing a party's base.


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