Shaheen Cruising While Brown Lags in NH

The New England College recently polled (May 2-5; 807 registered New Hampshire voters) the Granite State electorate and one of the office holders they tested was Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D). She is preparing for her first re-election, possibly against former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown (R).

About three weeks ago, Brown made public his consideration of launching a campaign against the senator in New Hampshire. He justifies the move by reminding voters that he was born in the state. Since making his statement, he has been actively exploring this potential political opportunity.

The NEC poll is the second publicly released survey since a Shaheen-Brown race became a possibility. The first, from Public Policy Polling (April 19-21; 933 registered New Hampshire voters) gave the New Hampshire senator a 52-41 percent advantage, but that was better than any bona-fide Granite State Republican fared against Shaheen.

New England College portends an even stronger incumbent than did PPP. They forecast a 54-35 percent ballot test, with a Shaheen favorability index of 61:29 percent positive to negative. Her approval among Republicans is 31 percent, 63 percent from Independents. Brown scores an overall 41:29 percent favorability index rating.

Delving further into the NEC poll, we find that Shaheen would command the support of 89 percent of self-identified Democrats, while Brown attracts 71 percent of Republicans. Independents break a solid 57-31 percent for the incumbent.

In the meantime, however, Public Policy Polling conducted a survey of Massachusetts voters (May 1-2; 1,539 registered Massachusetts voters) and found that Brown is the strongest candidate in the upcoming open governor’s race from either party and enjoys a 53:35 percent favorability rating among Bay State voters.

Tested against four major Democratic office holders, Brown would beat them all in hypothetical races for the state’s chief executive position.

If interim Sen. Mo Cowan were the Democratic nominee, Brown would lead 48-31 percent. Against Rep. Mike Capuano (D-MA-7), Brown’s margin is 45-38 percent. Opposing state Treasurer Steve Grossman, the only sure gubernatorial candidate from this group, Brown posts a 46-34 percent advantage. Finally, matching up with Secretary of State Bill Galvin, the former senator finds his closest contest but still leads 43-39 percent.

Though Brown clearly prefers serving in federal office, it is evident that his better option is to stay in Massachusetts and run for governor. Though early polling can easily change, most fundamentals do not. And, it stands to reason that a former Massachusetts elected official would be stronger in Massachusetts than in New Hampshire.

Stranger things have happened in modern American politics than a person like Scott Brown representing one state and then seeking election from another. But, at least the early data suggests that Granite State voters do not look favorably upon such a move. The likelihood of Scott Brown returning to a political ballot in the near future is high, but in which state and for what office remains an unanswered question.

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