Poll: Shaheen increases lead over Brown in NH

Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen has expanded her lead to 13 points over potential rival Scott Brown in the New Hampshire Senate race, according to a new poll. 

A Suffolk University-Boston Herald poll released Thursday found Shaheen leading with 52 percent of likely voters, compared to Brown's 39 percent. 

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Shaheen is the favorite to win reelection in the state but Brown, the former Massachusetts senator, is seen as one of the few Republicans who could potentially make the race competitive if he jumped in. 

However, Brown’s poll numbers have slowly declined since a survey in January found him trailing by only 3 percentage points. 

A poll conducted late last month by the Democrat-affiliated Public Policy Polling found Brown’s deficit had increased to 8 points. In that survey, Shaheen topped Brown 47 percent to 39 percent. 

Thursday’s poll is the first to find Shaheen with a clear majority of support in a potential matchup against Brown.

Brown’s favorability rating in the state is 33 percent, while 42 percent see him as unfavorable. 

Fifty-two percent have a favorable view of Shaheen, while 37 percent have an unfavorable view. 

When asked to name the first phrase “you think of” when hearing the name Scott Brown, 11 percent said “carpetbagger” while another 7 percent said “Massachusetts” — his two highest scores aside from positive and negative mentions. 

For Shaheen, the two top picks were “ex-governor” (7 percent) and senator (6 percent).

The poll also tested potential 2016 GOP candidates in the first-in-the-nation primary state. Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (D) both led the pack with 12 percent each. However, others followed closely behind: including Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (9 percent), Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan (9 percent), Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (8 percent), Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (7 percent) and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (6 percent).

The poll surveyed 800 likely voters in the state and has a 3-percentage point margin of error.