Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Is New Hampshire Shifting Republican?

In Polling, Senate on September 23, 2014 at 10:14 am

A new Vox Populi poll is either confirming a swing toward the New Hampshire Republican candidates, or is a clear outlier.

According to this new survey research firm’s latest Granite State data (Sept. 15-16; 550 likely New Hampshire voters), former Sen. Scott Brown (R) has now taken a surprising lead over Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D), 47-43 percent, a spread close to exceeding the polling margin of error. The totals reach the stated share for each candidate when the respondents leaning to each individual are added.

Since Sept. 10, the results from six polls, via six different pollsters (two of which were polling for a partisan interest), find Sen. Shaheen leading in four of the scenarios and Brown, two. This suggests that Brown has growing momentum because he is now leading or trailing by a smaller number than found in previous studies.

Both Rasmussen Reports and Public Policy Polling for the League of Conservation Voters find the incumbent leading by six points, while the American Research Group posts her to a five-point advantage. The fourth survey, from New England College, gives Sen. Shaheen an 11-point margin. This latter study clearly seems to be an outlier because no other pollster has come anywhere near such a conclusion within the parallel time periods. Since the academic polls tend to be less reliable than the professional firms, it will prove more accurate in the aggregate to discard this particular survey.

The two surveys posting Brown to a lead are from the aforementioned Vox Populi (+4) and Magellan Strategies (+2). It is possible to detect an underlying pattern in these five polls (minus New England College) that this particular Senate race is yielding clear tightening indications. Whether Scott Brown has actually pulled into the lead may be another story.

The governor’s race gives us a further clue into the polling reliability factor here, and this information is more positive from the Democratic perspective. Here, only Vox Populi forecasts a close contest. According to their study, Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) has the exact same 47-43 percent spread over Republican businessman Walt Havenstein that Brown is projected to hold over Sen. Shaheen.

Apart from being curious that the numbers are identical, yet reversed from a partisan perspective, the VP figures aren’t close to those from any other pollster. Five surveys have been conducted of this race, too, since Sept. 10. They project Hassan to leads of 15, 12,11, and nine percentage points, considerably different than the four-point Vox numbers.

The skew appears to come in the age categories. According to the US Census figures, 15.3 percent of New Hampshire’s population is over 65 years of age. In this particular Vox poll, that demographic segment soars to 36 percent. Those aged 45 and over account for 46.2 percent of the population as a whole. In the Vox survey a whopping 73 percent of the sample fits into this age category. Since people in the older age categories are trending more Republican, at least since this decade began, the older skew could explain why the GOP candidates may be over-performing in this particular survey. On the other hand, however, 53 percent of the Vox sampling universe is female but the actual statewide total is only 50.7 percent. This type of over-sample would generally favor Democrats, particularly when both of their statewide candidates are women.

The New Hampshire situation deserves further attention, but the latest trends do suggest that, at least in the Senate race, greater doubt surrounds the eventual outcome.

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