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N.H. Senate, governor races too close to call

Incumbents Polling Slightly Higher Than Challengers


Contact: Christine Gillette, 978-758-4664 (c), 978-934-2209 (w),

UMass Lowell representatives are available for interviews about today’s poll.

With 10 days to go before Election Day, the races for U.S. Senate and governor in New Hampshire are tight, according to a new UMass Lowell/7News poll released today.

In one of the most-watched U.S. Senate contests in the nation, incumbent Jeanne Shaheen has a narrow edge over challenger Scott Brown among likely voters with 49 percent for Shaheen and 46 percent for Brown. The gap between the candidates is within the margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points. Among registered voters, Shaheen’s lead over Brown is seven percentage points, 48 percent to 41 percent, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percent. 

The poll found that Shaheen, a Democrat, is receiving more support from members of her party than Republican Scott Brown is from his. Ninety-three percent of Democrats surveyed said they prefer Shaheen and 84 percent of Republicans said they back Brown. Fifty-two percent of independents polled support Shaheen, with 42 percent in favor of Brown and 6 percent undecided. 

Shaheen also has a greater lead among women voters (56 percent for Shaheen and 39 percent for Brown) than Brown has with male voters (53 percent for Brown, 41 percent for Shaheen), and Shaheen leads by 15 percent among voters with a college degree. 

Among likely voters, Shaheen scored a net favorability rating of plus 12 percent (54 percent favorable to 42 percent unfavorable) while Brown’s net favorability rating is -5 percent (44 percent favorable to 49 percent unfavorable.) 

Nine hundred New Hampshire registered voters participated in the independent, nonpartisan poll conducted by UMass Lowell’s Center for Public Opinion in partnership with 7News. More than 9,000 UMass Lowell graduates, approximately 1,500 students and 400 employees are New Hampshire residents.

Obama Disapproval Rate May Impact Shaheen's Race

The poll also asked New Hampshire voters for their opinion on President Obama’s job performance. Sixty percent of likely voters disapprove of how Obama is doing his job while 37 percent approve. In addition, Obama’s approval ratings on how he is handling specific issues such as the economy, health care, ISIS and Ebola are all lower than 40 percent. Those ratings are very low in the Granite State, given that he won there in 2008 and 2012, said Prof. Joshua Dyck, co-director of the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion, who wrote and analyzed the poll.

“Many of the fundamentals in this race suggest that under normal circumstances, Jeanne Shaheen, running as a well-liked incumbent, would be winning. Scott Brown has been effectively able to pitch this race to voters as not about how much you might like Jeanne Shaheen, but about how much you dislike President Obama,” said Dyck.

Among the likely voters who approve of President Obama’s job performance, 94 percent said they plan to vote for Shaheen. Seventy-three percent of those who disapprove of Obama’s job performance said they will vote for Brown. 

“Scott Brown’s biggest liability is that New Hampshire voters are still skeptical of his New Hampshire authenticity. Forty-three percent of likely voters say that he knows enough to represent New Hampshire in the Senate, while 51 percent say that he does not,” said Dyck.

Forty-one percent of likely voters said Brown has run a better campaign and 36 percent say his campaign has been the more negative of the two. Thirty-seven percent said they felt Shaheen has run a better campaign and 43 percent of likely voters said her campaign has been more negative.

“At this point in the Senate race, the candidates’ advertising themes, both positive and negative, are likely baked into the numbers revealed in our poll. The wild card will be in candidates’ ability to turn out the vote. The campaign with the stronger field organization can make all the difference in a race as close as this,” said Frank Talty, co-director of the Center for Public Opinion and assistant dean of UMass Lowell’s College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. 

In Race for N.H. Governor, Hassan Slightly Leads Havenstein

In the race for governor, incumbent Maggie Hassan is polling slightly higher than challenger Walt Havenstein. With 49 percent of likely voters supporting Hassan and 45 percent for Havenstein, the lead is within the poll’s margin of error. With more than 80 percent of voters from both parties saying they plan to vote a straight ticket, the hotly contested U.S. Senate race appears to be having an influence on the gubernatorial candidates, according to Dyck.

Hassan, a Democrat, leads among voters who identify as being members of her party (91 percent) and independents, 48 percent of whom support Hassan compared to 29 percent for Havenstein, a Republican. Hassan leads by 18 points among women voters, 56 percent to 38 percent, while Havenstein leads by 13 points among men, 53 percent to 40 percent. Hassan also has a 55 percent favorability rating and three in 10 likely voters polled said they have never heard of or have no opinion of Havenstein. 

Results of the poll are based on interviews with a random sample of 900 New Hampshire registered voters and a subset of 643 likely voters conducted via landline and cellular telephones Oct. 15 through Oct. 21. The survey used a probability-based, random-digit-dial methodology with a dual-frame design for landline and cellular telephone surveys conducted by live interviewers. Final results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies based on the 2012 American Community Survey for New Hampshire. The margin of error for registered voters is plus or minus 3.8 percent and plus or minus 4.5 percent for likely voters. More information on the poll methodology, as well as full polling data, is available at

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