A challenger who only moved to the state last year. A well-liked incumbent senator. A tied race.
What gives? Probably, President Obama.
Republican Scott Brown is in a dead heat with Democrat Jeanne Shaheen in his bid to unseat her from the US Senate, according to a new poll that found Shaheen remains relatively popular in New Hampshire, but the leader of her party most definitely is not.
If the election were held today, the CNN/ORC International survey found 48 percent of likely voters said they would vote for Brown, while 48 percent said they would vote for Shaheen.
Some recent polls have found Shaheen leading Brown by single-digit margins.
The candidates and outside groups have barraged Granite State residents with negative ads for months, working to paint both Brown and Shaheen in a bad light. Brown’s message has been particularly focused on linking Shaheen to Obama. Shaheen’s has been to portray Brown as purely self-interested and uncaring about New Hampshire.
The poll, conducted from Sept. 8-11, found 54 percent of likely voters have a favorable impression of Shaheen, while 42 percent have an unfavorable view of her. Meanwhile, 46 percent have a favorable opinion of Brown, while 48 percent see him unfavorably.
New Hampshire likely voters do not think highly of President Obama, who won New Hampshire in his 2008 and 2012 White House efforts, the poll found.
Only 38 percent of likely voters approve of the way Obama is handing his job. A whopping 60 percent disapprove.
Both Shaheen and Brown aides sought to spin the poll, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points among the 735 likely voters surveyed.
Spokesman Harrell Kirstein said Shaheen “enters the final eight weeks of the campaign in a strong position powered by a key contrast with Scott Brown: voters know and trust Jeanne Shaheen will put New Hampshire first, and they know Scott Brown is out for himself, not New Hampshire.”
Brown spokeswoman Elizabeth Guyton said “People want an independent senator who votes for New Hampshire first. By voting with President Obama 99 percent of the time, Jeanne Shaheen has given us fewer jobs, higher taxes and debt, a health care law that doesn’t work and an unstable world.”
The candidates will face off on the Nov. 4 general election ballot.
Their contest is one of a handful that could determine control of the US Senate. Republicans need to pick up a net of six seats to take control of the chamber.
Joshua Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jm_bos.