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Nov 2, 2014 8:52 PM

Paul Steinhauser: New NH1/NEC poll - NH Governor and Senate contests all knotted up

NH1 Political Director - NH1.com

CONCORD - With just two days to go until Election Day, a new NH1 poll by New England College indicates that New Hampshire's crucial U.S. Senate race between Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and GOP challenger Scott Brown remains all tied up.

And according to the survey, which was released Sunday night, Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan has a single digit lead over Republican nominee Walt Havenstein among likely voters. The poll also indicates former congressman Frank Guinta, the GOP challenger, building a lead over Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter in the first congressional district three-peat battle. In the 2nd congressional district, the survey suggests that Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster continues to lead GOP state Rep. Marilinda Garcia.

The poll was conducted Friday and Saturday, entirely after the final televised debates in all four races.

According to the survey, Brown's at 49% and Shaheen's at 48%. Brown's one point margin is well within the poll's sampling error, meaning the race is deadlocked. About three percent of those questioned said they were unsure or preferred someone else.

"This race is a complete toss-up," said Wayne Lesperance, Professor of Political Science at New England College.

The poll indicates a gender gap.

"Looking inside the numbers, it is interesting to note that Senator Shaheen's lead among women is 6.8% while Scott Brown leads among men by 8.9%. Independents appear relatively evenly split, leaning towards Scott Brown by a modest 2.6%," added Lesperance, director of the Center for Civic Engagement which includes the New England College Polling Institute.

In the gubernatorial contest, Hassan has a 51%-44% lead over Havenstein. That's a major shift from last week, when the two candidates were deadlocked.

Hassan's "margin over Havenstein is a return to similar results from weeks' past," observed Lesperance. "It may indicate that last week's poll results for Governor, which showed Havenstein gaining, were an outlier."

Just over 5% said they were undecided or backing someone else.

Guinta and Kuster build leads in congressional races

The battle between Shea-Porter and Guinta has seen some wild swings. Two weeks ago the race was all knotted up. In the new survey, Guinta holds a 52%-43% lead over Shea-Porter. This is the third straight election the two have faced off. Guinta knocked Shea-Porter out of Congress in the 2010 election. She returned the favor in 2012.

In the 2nd Congressional District, the poll indicates Kuster with a 53%-42% lead over Garcia.

Race for 2016

Granite State Democrats and Republicans were also asked about the field of potential 2016 presidential contenders, and which candidate they would possibly support in New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary.

In the battle for the GOP nomination 17% said if the primary were held today, they'd back former Florida Jeb Bush, with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at 15%, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee at 10%, with Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky at 8%. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida was at 7%, with Texas Gov. Rick Perry at 5%. Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal were each at 3%. The poll did not ask about 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

On the Democratic side, there was no surprise, with 53% backing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who says she's not running, was at 17%, with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont at 7%, Vice President Joe Biden at 6% and Maryland Gov. Marin O'Malley at 2%.

The NH1 Poll by New England College was conducted October 31-November 1, with 1,526 likely voters in New Hampshire questioned by telephone. The survey was conducted using Interactive Voice Response technology, an automated polling system. The poll's overall sampling error is plus or minus 2.5 points.


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