The battle for a seat on the New Hampshire senate is viewed by many as both a crucially important race, as well as a complete toss-up.
As it stands right now, it appears as though the race for the senate seat will come down to two primary players: incumbent Republican Kelly Ayotte and Democratic representative Maggie Hassan. Ayotte’s position as the Republican nominee, however, isn’t a total certainty as the primary election is not due to take place until September 13.
Until then, Ayotte’s focus will be twofold: First, she must topple Hassan in the general election, but she’ll also need to defeat Stanley Emanuel, Gerard Beloin, Tom Alciere and, perhaps most significantly Jim Rubens for the Republican nomination.
Favorability ratings and virtually all polling information bodes well for Ayotte in the primary. While her plus-two favorability rating is the lowest it has been since 2009, her main opposition for the GOP nomination, Rubens, is a relatively unknown candidate and should not pose a large threat to Ayotte in the primary.
Assuming that Ayotte does indeed come out on top come primary time, she will then be forced to turn the better part of her attention towards Hassan, with whom she is neck and neck according to recent polling figures.
The Rothenberg & Gonzales political report calls the race a “pure toss-up.” Similarly, Real Clear Politics polling numbers have shown small fluctuations lately averaging out to just a miniscule 0.4 point lead for Hassan. Most recently, an early-September Emerson poll indicates a 2 point lead for Ayotte, while a late-August poll by the University of New Hampshire showed an identical 2 point lead for Hassan.
Ayotte, who has held New Hampshire’s Class III senate seat since 2011, is at risk of losing the seat to a Democrat for the first time since John Durkin vacated the seat in 1980. Variances in polls have shown her with a lead as large as 9 points as recently as late June. As another battleground state, New Hampshire’s Class III senate seat is incredibly important in a year in which 24 of the 34 senate seats up for grabs are occupied by a Republican incumbent.