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Research 2000 for Daily Kos. 7/13-15. Likely voters. MoE 4%.

Charlie Bass (R) 37%
Paul Hodes (D) 42%

Kelly Ayotte (R) 39%
Paul Hodes (D) 38%

Our new poll suggests that the New Hampshire Senate race will be a real race, no matter what. Both match-ups, between Rep. Paul Hodes and former Rep. Charlie Bass and between Hodes and former Attorney General Kelly Ayotte are close, with lots of undecideds. While Hodes has an edge with undeclared voters (elsewhere known as independents) against Bass, Ayotte leads in that group, and pushes the number of undecideds higher among them.

Favorables yield some hints as to what's going on:

(Favorable/unfavorable/no opinion)
Ayotte 36/13/51
Bass 31/23/46
Hodes 34/21/45

All three candidates are in positive territory. Ayotte's favorables are the highest by a slim margin, as are her "no opinions." This points to an important task for Paul Hodes and the New Hampshire Democratic Party. Never having faced an election, she has never been defined negatively by an opponent. Her name recognition comes from the relatively depoliticized role of an appointed attorney general. The task for Democrats is to define her now, before she has the chance to do so. And she really hasn't done so yet:

Once out of the Attorney General's office, this Republican said, Ayotte "needs to sit down with someone who knows the nuts and bolts of politics. She has to decide if she wants to run as a conservative or a moderate, where she is on taxes and social issues."

Bass and Hodes, by contrast, have faced campaign opponents (including each other), so their negatives are relatively defined.

As a potential candidate, Ayotte is a strong get for the Republicans. Whether she can adequately explain her decision to resign and run for office just months after she agreed to serve another full term as attorney general, whether she is able to master the nuts and bolts of politics and campaigning, and whether New Hampshire voters like her ultimate decisions about whether she is wants to run as a conservative or a moderate remains to be seen. With this many undecideds and no opinions, the stage is set for the campaign to make the difference.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Thu Jul 16, 2009 at 12:50 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  So Sununu not looking for a dem rematch? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Greasy Grant, bluedonkey08

    He was on CNBC this morning.

    Dear GOP&Conservatives If all you have to offer are Cliches and Hyperbole then STFU. Thanks XOXOXO

    by JML9999 on Thu Jul 16, 2009 at 12:52:26 PM PDT

  •  Kelly Ayotte quit before the job was done, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LordMike, csquared, abgin

    just like Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.  Ayotte being another Palin wouldn't be a bad meme to take root in N.H.

    Barack Obama in the Oval Office. There's a black man who knows his place.

    by Greasy Grant on Thu Jul 16, 2009 at 12:53:44 PM PDT

  •  Breaking a pledge (0+ / 0-)

    If breaking a pledge is the biggest weapon for Democrats against AG Ayotte, then Democrats are in trouble.  It certainly didn't work for Republicans when Paul Wellstone broke his Senate pledge in 1996 to serve only one term.

    •  It's certainly not. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LordMike, Corporate Dog

      There's the fact that she's not only walking away, but walking away from a budget crisis partly of her making. Paradoxically, there's the fact that she lacks positions on the issues...yet where her positions have been implied by her actions as AG, they've been counter to the political climate of NH. And there's the fact that the best the Republicans can seem to do to justify her candidacy is point out that she's a mom and people know her name.

    •  Laura hits a good number of points against her. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      askew, Elwood Dowd, freedapeople

      And in the cases where Ayotte's pursued "extracurricular" legal activities as AG that DID run counter to the current political climate of NH, she's generally ended up with egg on her face (her involvement in the California marriage fight is a CLASSIC).

      But apart from even THAT, we have the bottomless well of corruption and cronyism that was the Benson administration to slurp from. She was his legal counsel, donchuknow?

      So don't worry, jim. We have PLENTY more laurels to throw at her.

      Corporate Dog

      Still pissed about FISA, but disgusted by the RNC 9/11 video.

      by Corporate Dog on Thu Jul 16, 2009 at 01:11:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm a bit surprised (0+ / 0-)

    It's a relatively small state -- no one has greater than 55% name recognition?

    •  Well, it's "no opinion," (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      which could mean "I don't care"? It is interesting how high those numbers are.

      •  "What's The Best Way?" (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        askew, Elwood Dowd

        Among my favorite SNL skits ever -- the only game show by New Englanders, for New Englanders -- as Phil Hartman (Stanley) and Adam Sandler (Tony) go to work:

        Stanley Sperrow: Ok, from Boston (Bahston) Mass to Nashua New Hampshire. ...

        (Tony buzzes in)

        Stanley Sperrow: Tony.

        Tony Vallencourt: Boston to Nashua? You goin' up there to buy liquor pally?

        Stanley Sperrow: Aya, no sales tax.

        Tony Vallencourt: Alright, you just gotta shoot up 95, but watch your ass crossin' over the border. Those state troopers are outa control.

        Stanley Sperrow: That's correct Tony!

        Tony Vallencourt: Hey, I don't care if you're 1 mile over the speed limit, they're haulin' your ass into Muni Court.

        Stanley Sperrow: Ok, Tony.

        Tony Vallencourt: I'm tellin' ya pal, these guys got a quota and a WICKED radar (radah) gun.

    •  (Soapbox #17) (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Adam B

      New Hampshire has no statewide steppingstones. No Lieutenant Governor, no elected Treasurer, no elected Attorney General. Vermont and Massachusetts all have those farm team (sorry!) positions. Here, when you run for Congress, Governor, or US Senator, you start out with low name recognition.

      Bass and Hodes are fairly well known in their own district (NH-02). Ayotte is fairly well known because the Union Leader promotes her - oh, but who knows whether she is really conservative?

  •  This is still the summer of 2009, right? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elwood Dowd

    Just checking.

  •  She's yet to decide? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    She has yet to decide whether to run as a conservative or a moderate? Wow. So presumably she will adopt whatever platform she thinks will get her the most votes. In other words, she isn't running on principle - she's running because she seeks power. That says something about her, about Republicans, and, I guess, about American politics in general.

  •  Those favorability numbers are (0+ / 0-)

    very worrisome, esp. Ayotte's.

    If we assume that the undecided will break the same way as the decideds, then it's

    Ayotte 73-27
    Bass   56-44
    Hodes  62-38

  •  "It's a Tight One" (0+ / 0-)

    I'll take "Things Never Heard During a Meeting Between Karl Rove & Jeff Gannon" for $1,000 , Alex...................

  •  Ayotte is an unknown (0+ / 0-)

    No one knows where she stands on anything. She could be a great candidate or a disastrous candidate.

  •  Over a year and one scandal away (0+ / 0-)

    I'm not following most of these polls about the distant future. All it takes is one incautious remark to blow the tires on the campaign vehicle. With so many crises, it is likely that one candidate or the other will put his foot in his mouth (more likely for Republicans). It is far too early to even think about polls. Come back in the spring.

    Is it not written "There's a lot goes on we don't get told."? (Lu Tze)

    by MakeChessNotWar on Thu Jul 16, 2009 at 01:10:50 PM PDT

  •  One additional note... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Elwood Dowd

    Keep in mind that Bass and Hodes have been candidates in NH-2, so that's where their name recognition is highest.

    Not so much in NH-1, I would wager. And the poll was conducted across the state.

    Corporate Dog

    Still pissed about FISA, but disgusted by the RNC 9/11 video.

    by Corporate Dog on Thu Jul 16, 2009 at 01:25:32 PM PDT

  •  Hodes vs Ayotte (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I don't know Ayotte at all but I've been told that she is very smart. I also just got an e mail from Hodes about a bill he is sponsoring on health care tax breaks where I think he just doesn't get it. Still, I support Hodes 100%. If Ayotte was so smart what in the world is she doing being a Republican in this day and age?

    Also, if you are in Southern NH, I'm giving a fundraising party for Hodes in Peterborough on August 2.  You are all invited.  E mail me for details --

  •  Bass would be guaranteed to do better in the 1st (0+ / 0-)

    CD so he could win

    Sorry I have to run to the Senate floor to abolish torture.

    by bten on Thu Jul 16, 2009 at 02:00:36 PM PDT

    •  Um, probably not. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Bass has stayed out of statewide races before precisely because the First has been unfriendly territory. He positions himself as a "moderate Republican." Republicans in the First aren't moderate; moderates in the First aren't Republican.

  •  best race in NE in 2010: (0+ / 0-)

    MA-Sen, MA-Gov, VT-Gov, or NH-Sen?

  •  Ayotte hasn't opened her mouth yet-- (0+ / 0-)

    I have heard she isn't a very good speaker and as you point out, she hasn't taken a stand on any issues yet.  Of course her best bet is to stay vague--Republicans lose to Moderate Democrats when they actually reveal what they stand for--the more programmatic they get, the more splintered the Rebublicans become.

    To the comment about NH being a small state--it is but it has a north/south orientation.  Population centers are in the south and they watch media from MA.  We only have one NH station, WMUR so if you don't want to watch them, the choice is limited.  Many of the people in the southern tier are from MA and may still work there, so they know more about MA politics and candidates.

    "The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out the conservative adopts them." ~Mark Twain

    by PoliSigh on Thu Jul 16, 2009 at 05:06:20 PM PDT

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