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Hassan now leads Ayotte by 8 points in US Senate race in N.H., poll finds

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Democrat Maggie Hassan (right) now holds an 8-point lead over incumbent Kelly Ayotte (left), a Republican, in the US Senate race in New Hampshire, according to a new poll.

In what has been a widely-watched race, Democrat Maggie Hassan now holds an 8-point lead over incumbent Kelly Ayotte, a Republican, in the US Senate race in New Hampshire, according to a new poll from WMUR and the University of New Hampshire.

According to the poll of 770 likely voters, 46 percent said they would vote for Hassan, 38 percent would vote for Ayotte, 3 percent would vote for someone else, and 13 percent were undecided.

The new poll marks the first time either candidate holds a statistically significant lead over the other in this race, UNH researchers wrote.

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The race between the two women, which will be decided on Nov. 8, could ultimately help decide control of the US Senate this election cycle.

Ayotte has made headlines over the past couple of weeks after stating during a debate in early October that she "absolutely" thought GOP nominee Donald Trump was a role model for children. She quickly backtracked in the face of criticism. Days later, she dropped her support for Trump after a 2005 tape surfaced that featured him making lewd comments. The next day, she said she favored him dropping out of the presidential race altogether.

However, her recent comments about not voting for Trump has not hurt her chances among Trump supporters, the survey found.

The new poll also found that senior Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, remains popular among New Hampshire voters: 52 percent said they have a favorable opinion of her, compared to 26 percent with an unfavorable view of her.

The survey had a 3.3 percent margin of error and was conducted by phone.