Oct 20, 2014 3:59 PM

Paul Steinhauser: New NH1 poll in Kuster-Garcia battle

NH1 Political Director - NH1.com

CONCORD - With two hours to go until the NH1 debate in New Hampshire's 2nd Congressional District, a new survey in the contest indicates Democratic incumbent Annie Kuster with a slight advantage.

According to a NH1 Poll by New England College, Kuster stands at 49 percent among likely voters, with Republican challenger Marilinda Garcia, a state representative, at 43 percent.

Kuster's six-percentage point margin over Garcia is up from a three-point edge in last week's survey. But in the poll two-weeks ago, Kuster enjoyed a double digit lead over Garcia.

"This is a very close race," notes Wayne Lesperance, professor of political science at New England College.

Another recent survey by WMUR and the University of New Hampshire indicated Garcia with a four-point edge over Kuster.

The NH1/NEC automated poll indicates a wide gender gap, with Kuster leading by 15 points among women and Garcia holding a five-point advantage among men. When it comes independent voters, according to the survey Kuster had a five-point edge.

The NH1/NEC poll was conducted Oct. 16th, with 460 likely voters in the 2nd congressional district questioned by telephone. The survey uses Interactive Voice Response technology, an automated polling system

The sampling error is plus or minus 4.6 percentage points.

With just over two weeks to go until Election Day, the two candidates are facing off for the first time when they meet Monday at 7 p.m. at NH1's studios in Concord. The debate will be broadcast live on WBIN-TV.

Meet the candidates

Kuster first ran for the district in 2010, narrowly losing to Republican Charlie Bass, who was running to regain his old House seat. Kuster lost to Bass by one-percentage point in a GOP wave year. Two years later, in the 2012 rematch, Kuster beat Bass by five points, underperforming President Barack Obama in the district in what was a politically friendly year for Democrats.

Kuster, 58, was born and raised in Concord. Politics runs in her family. Her mother was a state representative and her father served as mayor of Concord. She now lives in Hopkinton.

Before she first ran for Congress in 2010, Kuster spent two decades as an attorney and lobbyist with the Concord firm Rath, Young and PIgnatelli.

Garcia, 31, serves in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. She was first elected to the State House in 2006 at the age of 23. Garcia, who lives in Salem and who's half Spanish-American and half Italian-American, was last year named by the Republican National Committee as a "Rising Star" in the GOP.

She was joined on the campaign trail by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a rock-star among tea party activists and other grassroots conservatives, just before last month's primary. Garcia ended up beating state Sen. Gary Lambert, a former Marine, by a larger than expected margin.


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