With just two weeks to go before the New Hampshire general election, incumbent U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen leads challenger Scott Brown 49 percent to 46 percent, with Brown viewed more unfavorably than favorably, according to a Suffolk University/Boston Herald statewide poll of likely New Hampshire voters. Nearly six percent are undecided.

In June, Democrat Shaheen led Republican Brown, a former U.S. senator from Massachusetts, 49 percent to 39 percent, when there were more undecided voters and a Libertarian candidate still in the race.

Brown's popularity is a minus 9 (39 percent favorable vs. 48 percent unfavorable) in contrast to Shaheen’s plus 7 (49 percent favorable vs. 42 percent unfavorable).

“Despite her higher personal popularity, Shaheen's forty-nine percent vote share has not increased since the last Suffolk poll, taken in June,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “With no third-party candidate on the ballot, she’ll be looking to earn the support of one to two of the remaining six points to reach the critical fifty percent mark. Otherwise, she’ll need a strong get-out-the-vote operation to win.”

Shaheen was leading among women, 51 percent to 42 percent, and trailed among men, 50 percent to 46 percent. Shaheen also led among lifelong New Hampshire residents (52 percent to 43 percent) while breaking even among those likely voters who moved to New Hampshire from Massachusetts or other states.

Brown's ad noting that Shaheen voted with President Obama 99 percent of the time didn’t move voters significantly. Some 17 percent said it would make them more likely to vote for Shaheen, 35 percent less likely, and 44 percent said it would make no difference. While Shaheen and outside groups have targeted Brown on women’s issues, 45 percent said that they trust Brown on issues important to women, while 44 percent said they did not.

Brown has not been able to totally shake off the bitterness from supporters of his nine Republican challengers in the September GOP primary. Among these core voters who didn’t vote for Brown in the Republican primary, Brown received 49 percent to Shaheen's 42 percent, with 9 percent not sure.

In the governor's race, incumbent Gov. Maggie Hassan led by 10 points (49 percent to 39 percent) over Republican Walt Havenstein, with just over 11 percent undecided. Hassan had a 30-point lead in June. Havenstein still has a name recognition problem at this late stage, with 15 percent never having heard of him and 25 percent having heard of him but without forming an opinion.

Ebola Threat

The news media overall got passing grades for the early coverage of the Ebola virus threat, with 19 percent saying that the story was underreported, 29 percent that it was over reported, and 45 percent saying that the coverage was just about right.

When asked if they trusted the federal government to handle the Ebola crisis, 50 percent of voters said no, and 43 percent said yes.

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 (42 percent favorable – 53 percent unfavorable) and job performance (40 percent approve – 56 percent disapprove).

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 500 likely voters was conducted Thursday, Oct. 16, through Sunday, Oct. 19. The margin of error is +/-4.4 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. Results are posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center website. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310.