In a poll of New Hampshire voters conducted by the Boston Herald and released on Thursday, former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) trails Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) by 13 points in the state’s current Senate race. Recently, Brown changed residency when he made his second home in New Hampshire his primary residence. After getting soundly defeated by Democrat Elizabeth Warren in the Massachusetts Senate race in 2012, Brown realized that he wouldn’t have a chance of winning a Senate election in his home state so he decided to look elsewhere for a better option.
Brown was elected to the Senate in 2010 in a special election to fill the deceased Ted Kennedy’s seat and serve out the remaining time in his term. Surprisingly, Brown defeated Democrat Martha Coakley , the state’s Attorney General at the time, by 5 points. As Massachusetts is considered one of the most liberal states in the nation, and the election was to fill the seat that was previously held by a progressive icon, it was especially shocking to see a Republican win. Most of the blame probably has to go to Coakley, who was an awful candidate and didn’t resonate with voters at the time.
Regardless, 2 years later Massachusetts’ voters had enough of Brown and elected a true liberal to the Senate in Warren, who is the perfect person to take over for what Kennedy started. Brown, however, had just gotten a taste of the power and prestige that comes with being a US Senator and wanted more. Therefore, thinking that Shaheen was an easy target, he decided to run in New Hampshire.
The problem for Brown is that New Hampshire voters are on to his act and are rejecting him outright. While he trails Shaheen by double-digits, voters in general don’t like or trust him. His favorability is in the net-negative, as 33% view him positively compared to 42% unfavorable. 21% say they have no opinion or are undecided. However, only 4% say they’ve never heard of Brown, so for the most part, he isn’t able to just get his face out there and try to make a good first impression with the voters. He is well-known already.
Voters were also asked to say the first word or phrase that came to their mind when they heard his name. 11% actually said ‘carpetbagger.’ Another 7% said ‘Massachusetts.’ 7% more stated that he’s ‘dishonest’ or ‘untrustworthy.’ Also, 3% said he is an ‘opportunist.’
It will be very hard for Brown to change the opinions of New Hampshire voters enough for him to turn these numbers around. The Republican Party really would like to make Brown a star. He’s been making trips to Iowa recently and another reason for him running in New Hampshire is its position as an early primary state. Brown obviously has some intention of trying to run for the White House in 2016 or perhaps 2020 if (when) a Democrat wins in ’16.
The major problem for Brown is going to be that if (when) he loses in November, he will have gone two straight election cycles being defeated. Nobody is going to get behind him as a serious Presidential candidate if he’s a two-time loser and goes into 2016 without having held an elected office in 4 years. Especially given that he’d only served 2 years in the Senate before and that was his only national office ever held.