National Republicans and the political media are certainly impressed with former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown’s carpetbagging effort in New Hampshire. Yet back in the Granite State, people are decisively underwhelmed.
With Brown announcing his entrance on Thursday, CNN shouted “Game on in New Hampshire,” while US News wrote that the Republican’s entrance would “transform the contest into one of the most high-profile on the midterm map.” Over at The Washington Post’s The Fix, political columnist Sean Sullivan waxed poetic over Brown’s supposed “every-man appeal and off-the-cuff conversational style” and declared that, given incumbent Sen. and former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen Jeanne ShaheenDem senator asks for 'top to bottom' review of Syria policy A guide to the committees: Senate Mattis on rise in Trump administration MORE’s personal popularity, “the battle of personal likability could end up being a wash.”
Not really. In fact, it’s not even close. Note that the Koch brothers-backed group Americans for Prosperity has already spent $700,000 attacking Shaheen, and she’s being hit by groups backed by Karl Rove and retired Chicago Cubs owner Joe Ricketts as well. And what is the result of all that spending? Contrary to the media narrative, poll after poll is showing that Shaheen is still popular and that New Hampshire voters view Brown negatively.
A Granite State poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire early this month found Brown’s favorability mired at 29 percent favorable and 39 percent unfavorable, virtually unchanged from 27/38 percent in January. Meanwhile, Shaheen’s favorability, 49/35 percent, is virtually unchanged from January’s 50/34 percent reading. A million dollars in right-wing attack ads couldn’t move her numbers outside of the margin of error.
A Suffolk University poll from early March had similar numbers. Brown got 33 percent favorable and 42 percent unfavorable, compared to 53/37 percent for Shaheen. The poll tested 15 New Hampshire politicians, and of those with top name recognition, Brown was at the bottom.
And then there was a Public Policy Poll for the League of Conservation Voters last week pegging Brown’s favorability ratings at 35/49 percent. His numbers in January were 34/40 percent, suggesting that the more people see of Brown, the less they like. PPP didn’t ask about Shaheen’s favorabilities; rather, it asked about her job performance. Respondents approved of her performance 44 percent vs. 43 percent in January and 47 vs. 46 percent last week, once again suggesting that the million dollars spent attacking her thus far has been utterly wasted.
In all three polls, Brown trails Shaheen. The margin is 6 points in the UNH poll, 13 points in the Suffolk poll and 8 points in the PPP poll. There may be a blockbuster Senate race here before Election Day rolls around, but as of now, this is decidedly second- or third-tier. Brown’s first fundraising report of $274,000 doesn’t promise to change that. It doesn’t matter that it was over 16 days — with his established network of donors and strong ties to Wall Street, he should’ve easily cleared seven figures just from the low-hanging fruit.
But this race won’t revolve around money. It’s clear that Brown’s Massachusetts roots are proving an impediment to his candidacy, even twisting his surrogates into knots. Like former Gov. John Sununu saying, with a straight face, “It’s going to be great to have a senator that was born virtually in the state of New Hampshire.” And if that wasn’t self-parodying enough, he claimed that “[Sen. Jean Shaheen] is the third senator from Massachusetts.” Not only was Brown actually a senator from Massachusetts, he spent a lot of time and money trying to remain a senator from Massachusetts. New Hampshire doesn’t take kindly to being a consolation prize for Massachusetts losers. Scott Brown isn’t about to change that.
Moulitsas is the founder and publisher of Daily Kos.