Democratic Poll Shows Mass.’s Brown Favored Over N.H. GOP

Concord — A new, Democratic-leaning poll 15 months out from the next election offers good news for Gov. Maggie Hassan and U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., but theoretical hope of recovering the GOP brand if competitive candidates emerge to seek major office.

Shaheen, a first-term Democrat, holds a double-digit lead over those more likely to run potential challengers, but former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown draws nearly into a dead heat with her, 48 percent for Shaheen to 44 percent for Brown whose family owns a summer home on the Seacoast.

She leads ex-Republican Congressman Charles Bass by 10 (51-41), ex-U.S. Sen. Bob Smith by 16 (51-33) and ex-state Sen. Jim Rubens by 17 percentage points (50-33).

Hassan is in even better shape with at least a 15-point lead over four possible Republican challengers with Manchester lawyer Brad Cook faring the best of the lot (49-34 percent).

“Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen look like favorites for reelection,” said Dean Debnam, Public Policy Polling’s president, in a statement. “The fact that the strongest possible candidate for New Hampshire Republicans lives in Massachusetts doesn’t speak well for the party bench there.”

This automated poll was done of 1,038 voters in the state last Thursday through Monday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.

Nationally, political analysts have declared the U.S. Senate seat to clearly be “leaning Democrat” since many prominent Republicans in the state passed on this race and Shaheen began to amass a large campaign war chest.

Most observers also would agree that any Capitol Hill incumbent who is at or below 50 percent in re-election more than a year before the vote still could become vulnerable.

As for the state’s leading Republican, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, of Nashua, is viewed less favorably than either Shaheen or Hassan according to PPP, but she remains a political force to be reckoned with.