New polls show much tighter Shaheen-Sununu race

Two new polls show former New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenDemocrats want White House hopefuls to cool it on Biden attacks Key endorsements: A who's who in early states Design leaks for Harriet Tubman bill after Mnuchin announces delay MORE (D) isn’t starting her new Senate campaign against Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.) with as big an advantage as previously thought.

Shaheen leads Sununu by five points in both a new American Research Group (ARG) poll and a new Rasmussen poll. Both were released Tuesday, four days after Shaheen announced she would enter the race.

Her single-digit lead pales in comparison to the 20-plus-point margins Shaheen had enjoyed in previous polls on the race, and it suggests the two of them are headed for a dogfight.

Generally, candidates are thought to get a bump in the polls after announcing their candidacy. Both polls were conducted after Shaheen entered the race.

A spokeswoman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), Rebecca Fisher, said the new polls represent a more authentic picture of the race and suggest that Shaheen’s official entry brought back some not-so-great memories for voters.

Sununu defeated Shaheen 51-47 in 2002 to win his seat. The Rasmussen poll showed Shaheen with a 51 percent favorable rating and a 44 percent unfavorable — numbers almost identical to Sununu’s 50 and 43.

“Obviously, now that New Hampshire voters are presented with a real choice and not a hypothetical match-up, they aren’t nearly as excited about Gov. Shaheen as everyone was led to believe,” Fisher said. “Gov. Shaheen’s record is coming back to haunt her.”

Former state Democratic Party Chairwoman Kathy Sullivan said she was skeptical about the previous polls, including another ARG survey that showed Shaheen leading 57–29.

“Sununu’s not a pushover, despite what a lot of people say,” Sullivan said. “His family’s got great name recognition.”
Sununu took aim at Shaheen this week, unleashing rhetoric generally reserved for challengers and late-campaign debates. He sharply criticized Shaheen’s work on education during her six years as governor and accused her of a “failure of leadership.”

Shaheen could still face primary opposition from Democrat Katrina Swett, who has not yet said whether she will stay in the race. Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand withdrew the day after Shaheen announced, while astronaut Jay Buckey has said he will stay in the race.

Bob Quinn, a spokesman for Swett, said she became a grandmother for the first time on Tuesday and that an announcement is expected in the next several days.