Incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen leads challenger Scott Brown 49 percent to 39 percent, with Brown, a Republican and former U.S. senator from Massachusetts, viewed more unfavorably than positively, according to a Suffolk University/Boston Herald statewide poll of likely New Hampshire voters.

Brown’s popularity is a minus-11 (35 percent favorable vs. 46 percent unfavorable) in contrast to Shaheen’s plus-16 (52 percent favorable vs. 36 percent unfavorable).

Shaheen’s 10-point lead is slightly less than the 13-point lead she had when Suffolk fielded a poll in early March before Brown formally announced his candidacy. Libertarian talk show host Gardner Goldsmith is polling 2 percent, with 9 percent undecided in the Senate race.

“While the point spread seems to have closed, Scott Brown’s unfavorable number is dangerously high,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston.

In the governor’s race, incumbent Maggie Hassan was leading by more than 30 points against four possible Republican challengers including businessman Walt Havenstein, entrepreneur Andrew Hemingway, farmer Daniel Greene, and health care worker Jonathan Smolin as well as Libertarian Max Abramson.

The Suffolk University/Boston Herald poll is the first public poll to include Libertarian candidates for U.S. senate and governor.

“Although the ballot-test numbers for Democrats Shaheen and Hassan have settled back a bit, both still are strong in their respective races,” said Paleologos.

Iraq and Bergdahl

With Iraq roiling, 44 percent of likely voters would support the authorization of air strikes and drone attacks, however 34 percent opposed, and 21 percent weren't sure.

A majority of those polled (63 percent) were undecided about Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was released through a Taliban prisoner swap after being held captive in Afghanistan for nearly five years. Six percent said he was a hero, and 27 percent said he was a traitor.

“This question tests public opinion arrived at through the prism of network news broadcasts,” said Paleologos. “Among CNN and C-SPAN viewers, an equal amount of respondents said hero versus traitor. Among FOXNews viewers, just 2 percent indicated hero and 55 percent said traitor.”

2016 presidential sweepstakes

While the Democratic primary is dominated by Hillary Clinton in all public polls, her favorability went from a plus-12 in March (51 percent favorable – 39 percent unfavorable) to a plus-6 today (48 percent favorable – 42 percent unfavorable).

Meanwhile, the Republican GOP presidential sweepstakes is wide open in New Hampshire. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were tied at 11 percent, followed closely by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) at 8 percent, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (7 percent) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) (5 percent). Six other potential candidates combined for 17 percent, with 32 percent undecided.

Romney effect

When Mitt Romney was added into the mix, he dominated the field among likely Republican voters, securing 24 percent while driving all other potential candidates into single digits.

President’s approval ratings

President Obama, a 6-point winner in the Granite state in 2012, continues to be on the minus side in both personal popularity (45 percent favorable – 49 percent unfavorable) and job performance (39 percent approve – 52 percent disapprove). These ratings are down by a point from last March, when a Suffolk University poll showed his personal popularity at 46 percent favorable – 48 percent unfavorable and 40 percent of voters approving, 51 percent disapproving of the president’s job performance.

Methodology

The statewide Suffolk University survey used a split sample of landline and cell phone numbers and a screen to filter out low voter intensity. The field of 800 likely voters was conducted Saturday, June 14, through Wednesday, June 18. The margin of error is +/-3.5 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. The subset of 419 likely Republican primary voters carries an error rate of +/-4.8 percent.

Results are posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center website. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310.