The Democrats salivated when Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) called GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump a role model. Her opponent Gov. Maggie Hassan held a press call and released a web ad over it. Pollsters even said the comment and Ayotte’s attempt to walk back hurt her chances for re-election. But did it? From The Boston Globe:
Ayotte, a Republican, leads her challenger, Governor Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, 47 percent to 41 percent, in poll of the high-stakes race for US Senate.
The poll was performed on Monday to Wednesday this week, surveying voters before and after the US Senate debate earlier this week during which Ayotte said “absolutely” Trump is a role model for her children. Hours later Ayotte said she misspoke.
In any case, the poll did not show any erosion of support for Ayotte following her comment. But Hassan’s campaign will begin airing a one minute-long television advertisement Friday that highlights her debate mishap.
The Democrats only need five seats, four if Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton wins, to retake the Senate majority. Democrats and GOP have concentrated on NH since it is a tight race. The Senate Leadership Fund recently invested more money into Ayotte’s campaign since many outside groups have not donated much.
However, the poll also found that their popularity has suffered:
Ayotte’s favorability rating is 48 percent — down 6 points from a 2014 version of the same poll.
And Hassan’s favorability is 42 percent, down from 50 percent in 2014.
“Here you also have two well-known candidates and a low undecided,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “However, Hassan’s unfavorable rating is almost equal to her favorable rating which is a significant change from her past popularity ratings.”
Ayotte has even taken her mistake and used it to her advantage in a new ad, which is part of the funds she received from the Senate super PAC.
Ayotte tries to diffuse the situation immediately:
“Let’s be honest, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are far from perfect, and I’m not perfect either,” she says.
She then tells the viewers she works as a bipartisan senator and no matter which party she works with, she’s always “standing up for New Hampshire.”
Most senators up for re-election have avoided mentioning Trump. But maybe it isn’t such a bad idea for Ayotte since the exact same poll found that Hillary only leads Trump 44% to 42%.
Another interesting tidbit? Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson’s support went down to 5% from 15%. Now where did his supporters go?
“What makes New Hampshire unique is the drop of Johnson support, and these voters going to Trump,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. “Our poll shows that neither campaign can make any presumptions about winning New Hampshire. It will likely go down to the wire. Johnson voters may be the key to who wins.”
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