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Oct 1, 2014 1:24 PM

Republican challengers make gains in new NH1 poll

NH1 Political Director - NH1.com

CONCORD - With just over a month to go until Election Day, a new survey indicates that New Hampshire's U.S. Senate battle between Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen and Republican challenger Scott Brown is all tied up.

And according to a NH1 poll by New England College, the GOP challenger in the state's gubernatorial contest has also all made major gains.

The automated poll indicates that Shaheen and Brown are both tied at 47% among likely voters, with six percent saying they're backing another candidate or are undecided. That's a change from last week, when the NH1/New England College survey indicated Shaheen, a former three-term governor, leading Brown, a former senator from Massachusetts, 50%-43%.

One reason for the shift: male voters. While Shaheen continues to hold a strong lead among women, the new poll suggests that Brown's slight edge among men is now a double digit lead.

"Senator Shaheen continues to enjoy a significant advantage among women with a nearly 13 point lead over Brown," said Wayne Lesperance, professor of political science at New England College. "Among men, however, Brown has expanded his lead since last week's New England College Poll to 11.5 points."

Also helping Brown: independents. Shaheen had a slight edge among independent voters in last week's survey. Now Brown holds a slight margin over Shaheen.

According to the survey, Shaheen continues to have slightly stronger support among Democrats than Brown has among Republicans. That could be critical in a midterm election, which is often a battle for base voters.

The NH1/New England College poll is the second recent survey to indicate the two candidates deadlocked. A CNN/ORC poll conducted in early September also had them tied. Other recent non-partisan surveys indicated Shaheen leading from six to ten points.

The Granite State's Senate battle is one of a dozen crucial races across the country that could determine whether the Democrats or Republicans control the chamber next year. Democrats currently hold a 55-45 majority in the Senate (including two independents who caucus with the party). But in the midterms, the party is defending 21 of the 36 seats up for grabs, with half of those Democratic-held seats in red or purple states like New Hampshire.

Gains among men helping Havenstein

In the race for governor, the poll indicates incumbent Maggie Hassan with a 48%-44% advantage over GOP nominee Walt Havenstein. The first-term governor's four-point margin over her Republican challenger is down from a 12-percentage point lead last week. Eight percent were either undecided or backing another candidate.

Once again gender appears to be a reason why Hassan's large lead has shrunk. Her 17-point lead last week among women has edged down to 14 points. And her slight edge among men has disappeared. Havenstein, a former marine, an engineer and the former chief operating officer of BAE Systems in Nashua, a defense contractor, now has six-point advantage among men.

"Inside the poll we see some interesting trends among unenrolled/independent voters who give Havenstein a slight advantage," added Lesperance, director of the Center for Civic Engagement which includes the New England College Polling Institute.

In the first Congressional District, Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter and GOP challenger Frank Guinta last week were all tied up at 45% among likely voters.

According to the new poll, Guinta now leads Shea-Porter 51%-41%, with 9% either unsure or backing someone else. This is the third straight time the two have faced off. Guinta won in 2010, with Shea-Porter beating him in 2012.

In the second Congressional District, the poll indicates Rep. Annie Kuster leading Republican nominee Marilinda Garcia 50%-39%. The first-term Democratic incumbent's lead over the state representative is basically unchanged from last week's survey.

An earlier version of this article had incorrect numbers in the two congressional races that were provided by New England College.

The NH1 poll by New England College Poll was conducted September 26, with 1,331 likely voters in New Hampshire questioned by telephone using Interactive Voice Response technology, an automated polling system. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.u


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