New Hampshire sours on Brown

Scott Brown couldn’t hold on to his Senate seat two years ago, despite being one of the most popular politicians in Massachusetts. The lesson in Brown’s 8-point loss to Elizabeth Warren appeared to be that, in the liberal Bay State, ideology trumps affability. Brown promptly packed up his pickup truck, sold his Wrentham home, decamped to New Hampshire, and began making noises about running for Senate in his new home state — where, presumably, he could cash in on his political stardom without carrying his political party around his neck like an albatross.

The calculus behind Brown’s move north unraveled yesterday. A Suffolk University/Boston Herald poll shows Brown trailing Sen. Jeanne Shaheen by 13 points in a hypothetical Senate matchup. Worse, his favorability in his new home is upside-down: Just 33 percent of the voters Suffolk surveyed view the former People’s Seat occupant favorably, compared to the 42 percent who view him negatively.

Suffolk pollster David Paleologos marvels at the poll in a Herald column today. Nothing in the data suggests that Brown should be faring as poorly as he is, Paleologos writes. President Obama‘s favorability in the state, which he won twice, is upside-down by double digits. A majority of New Hampshire voters believe the president’s signature accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act, is bad for the state. Two-thirds don’t see any improvements in the local economy. But even against that backdrop, which should be poison for the Democratic incumbent Shaheen, Brown struggles. He’s weak with female voters, unpopular among both Democrats and independents, and viewed as a carpetbagger.

Brown hasn’t yet jumped into the New Hampshire Senate race. He’s working as a lawyer at a major Boston law firm, and as an analyst on Fox News. He might just be in New Hampshire because he likes clean air, lakes, mountains, and freedom. But he’s been publicly flirting with a Senate campaign for months, and he appears to be serious about at least taking the race seriously.

It’s worth noting that the political climate Brown faces in New Hampshire looks far harsher than the one he left behind in Massachusetts. Even after losing to Warren in 2012, Brown remained hugely personally popular. A July 2013 MassINC Polling Group survey put his favorable/unfavorable split at 45/29 — far better than the 33/42 numbers he faces in New Hampshire. A January MassINC poll found that more voters want to see someone else have a crack at the Senate seat now occupied by Ed Markey, than believe Markey deserves to be reelected. Brown passed up a tilt with Markey.

It looks like he now has far tougher fight on his hands, if he wants a fight at all.



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