Jousting in New Hampshire

In April, former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R) surprisingly admitted that he was considering moving to New Hampshire to challenge first-term Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D). Brown followed his statement by spending time in the Granite State, meeting with the party faithful and explaining that he truly does have New Hampshire bona fides.

After initial polling showed large Shaheen leads, talk of an impending Brown move seemed to dissipate. The political focus surrounding him shifted to whether he would run for governor of Massachusetts, a prospective race in which polling posted him well ahead of every potential candidate from both parties. Then, a show trip to Iowa immediately preceded his announcement declining a run for governor, but his verbiage certainly left the door wide open for a 2016 presidential run.

Now, however, the talk surrounding Brown’s next political move is returning to New Hampshire and even Sen. Shaheen, herself, is participating.

First, in a look back to last week, Public Policy Polling (Sept. 13-16; 1,038 registered New Hampshire voters) released a poll showing Brown just four points behind Sen. Shaheen, 48-44 percent, hardly an insurmountable deficit and a net seven-point gain in his direction from PPP’s April poll.

Apparently Sen. Shaheen is not taking the survey nor the potential Brown move to her state lightly; or, she is simply using the potential threat as a fundraising ploy. In the past few days the senator began sending communications to supporters repeating a WMUR television report that Brown is selling his home in Massachusetts, while asking for “$5,780 in six hours” to make her arbitrary campaign finance deadline goal.

The Democrats and media’s talk of Brown now moving to New Hampshire in order to challenge Shaheen may be much ado about nothing, or it could have substance. The idea is certainly attractive to the national Republicans because they are desperate to expand the Senate playing field in order to maximize the number of opportunities necessary to convert the six Democratic seats they need to capture the majority.

While Scott Brown would certainly begin the campaign as an underdog to Sen. Shaheen, it is unlikely the Republicans could recruit a stronger candidate. Therefore, expect the national GOP leadership to continue exerting some pressure upon him to run. And, with Shaheen helping to stir the pot in such a direction if, for now, only to expand her fundraising, a new synergy for his New Hampshire candidacy might be formulating.

Note: New Jersey

Last week we reported on a Quinnipiac University poll that placed Republican Steve Lonegan within a 53-41 percent deficit of Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D), and indicated that the race could be tightening. Now, a second poll confirms the Q-Poll margin.

Yesterday, a Monmouth University survey (Sept. 26-29; 571 likely New Jersey voters) reported an almost identical finding, pegging the Booker margin at 53-40 percent.

With the Oct. 16 election approaching, we can still expect Cory Booker to win, but his final victory margin may not be quite as convincing as early polling originally suggested. Even with detecting a closer voting pattern, the numbers still yield a comfortable Booker victory. Should Lonegan continue to close, however, will the Republican leadership invest resources in a last-ditch effort if they think a long shot upset is even slightly viable? The expense of campaigning here suggests not.

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