While many of the most crucial races to determine control of the Senate remain too close to call, the race in New Hampshire seems to be less of a toss-up. Yet each side is clinging to optimism.
In just one month, polls show incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) widening the gap between her and the GOP challenger Scott Brown, with the latest University of New Hampshire poll putting her six points ahead. Earlier polls in August had showed Brown trailing by only two points.
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The University of New Hampshire poll also revealed that 50 percent of voters say they had a positive image of Shaheen, compared to 29 percent who said they had a positive image of Brown.
The race was always going to be an uphill battle for Brown, who lost his reelection campaign for the Massachusetts Senate seat in 2012. He moved to New Hampshire last year when he announced his Senate candidacy. Since then, he’s focused heavily on tying Shaheen to President Obama – knocking her for supporting the president’s policies, especially on the Middle East and ISIS.
Shaheen, for her part, has heavily distanced herself from Obama and instead campaigned with Massachusetts Senator and liberal firebrand Elizabeth Warren, who defeated Brown in 2012. She’s also enlisted President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to help her campaign.
Brown, meanwhile, has Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney stumping for him on the campaign trail.
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While most polls show Shaheen with a four-to-six point lead, some conservative polls still show Brown within striking distance. A new Survey USA/High Point University poll shows Shaheen up by only two points, giving Brown’s campaign enough fuel to remain optimistic.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen: Incumbent Shaheen became New Hampshire’s first female senator in 2009 after making history as the state’s first elected female governor. Before politics, Shaheen was a high school teacher in Mississippi and New Hampshire. She serves on the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
Scott Brown: The former Senator from Massachusetts is angling to get back into the Upper Chamber, this time on behalf of New Hampshire. Brown lost his Senate seat in 2012 to Sen. Elizabeth Warren and moved to the Granite State last year. Brown dabbled in modeling before entering politics and was dubbed by Cosmopolitan “America's Sexiest Man” when he was 22. The former lawyer served 12 years in the Massachusetts state legislature before turning to the national scene. In the Senate, he was known as a moderate who worked across party lines and was one of just five Republicans who voted for the Democrat-sponsored jobs bill.
Though much of the midterms have focused on President Obama’s policies as opposed to the candidates’ positions, there are several major issues the New Hampshire candidates routinely spar over – including reproductive rights. Shaheen, a fierce advocate for women’s issues, has painted Brown – a self-proclaimed “pro-choice” Republican – as a flip-flopper, reminding voters regularly that he co-sponsored legislation to allow employers to opt out of providing contraceptive coverage to employees under the ACA.
A Supreme Court ruling earlier this year gave “closely held” companies the right to refuse to provide contraception coverage for religious or moral reasons. Shaheen, meanwhile, co-sponsored a bill that would reverse the Supreme Court’s decision.
As the incumbent, Shaheen has a significantly larger war chest than Brown. The Center for Responsive Politics, says that Shaheen raised $11.2 million and spent nearly $7 million, as of August 20. She has about $4.2 million on hand. Meanwhile, Brown raised about $3.6 million and spent $2.4 million. He had about $1.2 million in his war chest as of late August.
Earlier this summer polls showed the race as extremely tight. With just under a month to go, Shaheen has been enjoying a steady five-to-six point lead over the Republican challenger and it’s not shaping up to be as close of a race as in other major battleground states. Nate Silver’s Five Thirty Eight thinks Shaheen is a 90-percent favorite to win. Still, as Brown said during a fundraiser event last weekend, “There are 24 days left… It’s not over ‘til it’s over. I’m going to fight until 8-9 o’clock that night and then we’ll figure out who is that winner.”
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