Oct 23, 2014 5:00 AM

Paul Steinhauser: Senate race tied up heading into NH1/CNN debate

NH1 Political Director - NH1.com

CONCORD - Hours before an NH1/CNN debate in New Hampshire's crucial Senate race, two new polls illustrate just how much is on the line Thursday evening when Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Republican challenger Scott Brown face off in round two of three televised showdowns.

A CNN/ORC poll released Thursday morning indicates that Shaheen's at 49 percent and Brown's at 47 percent among likely voters in the Granite State. Shaheen's two-percentage point advantage is well within the survey's sampling error, meaning the race is all tied up. Wednesday night, a new NH1 Poll by New England College also suggested a deadlocked contest, with Brown at 48 percent and Shaheen at 47 percent among likely voters.

According to the CNN poll, 86 percent said they've made up their mind, but 12% offered that they could change their preference on which candidate they are backing in the race.

"Roughly one in eight likely voters say they could change their minds between now and Election Day, and those persuadable voters are the real audience that both candidates will be addressing at Thursday's debate," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

That showdown, which will be broadcast live on WBIN at 7 p.m., will be held at NH1's studio's in Concord.

Tuesday, in their first televised debate, the two candidates sparred over the health care law, energy prices, immigration and border security, outsourcing of U.S. jobs, support for small businesses, nuclear power, the possible spread of the deadly Ebola virus into the U.S., and the battle against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

And both candidates used the debate to rehash attack lines which have become very familiar to Granite State voters.

Shaheen portrayed Brown as being opportunist in his move to New Hampshire. Brown served three years as a U.S. senator from Massachusetts before losing re-election in 2012. Late last year he moved to New Hampshire, where he spent parts of his childhood and long owned a vacation home. In April, he launched a GOP challenge against Shaheen.

"I don't think New Hampshire is a consolation prize. We need a senator who is going to put New Hampshire first," she said.

Brown portrayed Shaheen as being in lockstep with President Barack Obama, who's approval rating in the state is nothing to brag about.

"She has, in fact, voted with the president over 99 percent of the time," he said.

The Shaheen-Brown showdown is one of a dozen Senate contests nationwide that could determine whether the Democrats retain control of the chamber following the Midterm elections. Democrats currently control the Senate 55-45 (43 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the party) but are defending 21 of the 36 seats up for grabs next month. And half of the seats they are defending are in red or purple states like New Hampshire.


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