New Hampshire Senate race is tight
despite Trump focus
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[October 15, 2016]
By Scott Malone
(Reuters) - New Hampshire's Senate race is
a dead heat between incumbent Republican Kelly Ayotte and Governor
Maggie Hassan, polls showed on Friday, with the tight contest showing
the limits of the Democrat's attempt to tie her rival to Donald Trump.
Hassan at a debate on Friday lashed out at Ayotte for having said for
months that she would vote for, but not endorse, Republican presidential
nominee Trump, whose White House campaign is struggling to fight off
allegations about groping women.
Ayotte changed her position following last weekend's release of a video
in which Trump made lewd comments about women, saying she could not vote
"Senator Ayotte until last Saturday was willing to vote to put Donald
Trump in the Situation Room with access to the nuclear codes, and that
shows a very concerning lack of judgment," Hassan said during a debate
on WGIR-AM radio.
"I have renounced Donald Trump's statements on many occasions ... I have
clearly stated where I stand on Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. I
won't be voting for either of them," Ayotte said, adding that she
planned to write-in a vote for Trump's running mate, Governor Mike Pence
A pair of new polls released Friday and late Thursday showed the New
Hampshire race tied.
A MassInc/WBUR poll conducted Monday through Wednesday showed the
Republican holding the support of 46 percent of 501 likely voters to
Hassan's 45 percent. A UMass Lowell/7 News poll of 517 likely voters
found a similarly close result, with Ayotte holding 45 percent support
to Hassan's 44 percent. Both gaps were well within the polls' margins of
[to top of second column]
Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) speaks at the No Labels Problem Solver
Convention in Manchester, New Hampshire October 12, 2015.
But that finding came as the UMass poll showed Clinton extending her
lead in the state to a statistically significant 45 percent support
ahead of Trump's 39 percent. That poll had a 4.4 percentage point
margin of error.
Clinton's stronger lead in a four-way race, which also includes
Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green party candidate Jill Stein,
suggested that Hassan's effort to tie Ayotte to Trump was proving
ineffective with the state's famously independent-minded voters.
"Senator Ayotte is a pretty well known commodity and her personality
and views are strong," said Neil Levesque of the New Hampshire
Institute of Politics. "You have Republicans who don't want to vote
for Trump who are going to vote for Hillary but are also going to
vote for Kelly Ayotte because they want her as a check and balance
on a Clinton presidency."
(Reporting by Scott Malone in Boston; Editing by Alistair Bell)
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