Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Behind the Ad: Former Mass. Sen. Scott Brown comes to New Hampshire (and not for a vacay)

By Richard K. Barry

Who: End Spending Action Fund

Where: New Hampshire (on WMUR TV and cable sports networks).

What's going on: The End Spending Action Fund is a group backed by billionaire Joe Ricketts, which, as the name suggests, is a Republican advocacy group. This ad is in support of former Massachusetts GOP Sen. Scott Brown, who has been toying with the idea of running for the U.S. Senate in New Hampshire. Now comes word via the Boston Globe that he will in fact take the plunge, and make his intentions clear this Thursday.

The incumbent is Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, who was first elected in 2008 with 52 percent of the vote, defeating then-GOP Sen. John Sununu. As you will recall, 2008 was a particularly good year for Democrats, which is likely why Brown is thinking he can poach the seat in this year's midterm, when Republicans have done well more recently.

Scott Brown won, I'm sure you'll remember, an upset special election in 2010 in Massachusetts to fill the remainder of Ted Kennedy's term, but was than unseated in 2012 by Democrat Elizabeth Warren.

As for polling in New Hampshire, HuffPollster's trend line has Shaheen ahead of Brown by a margin of 49.8 percent to 40.3 percent, though this was done before it was clear he was running. The most recent poll (March 13-16) has Shaheen up 50 percent to 38 percent. Still, if Democrats
want reason to worry, they can direct themselves to President Obama's job approval rating in the state. Just 31 percent say they like the job he is doing, while 56 percent disapprove.

As we've seen in the past, all bets seem to be off in the midterms.

The ad in question features a clip of Brown criticizing Obamacare in his victory speech after the 2010 special election in Massachusetts. “It will raise taxes; it will hurt Medicare; it will destroy jobs and run our nation deeper into debt,” he states. And then the announcer intones: “Scott Brown was right on ObamaCare then. He’s right for New Hampshire now.”

Grade: While Republicans running hard against ObamaCare makes sense now, it is hard to tell how the issue will play in November. Maybe it will still work. Maybe not. In a state where Obama's favourability is seriously underwater, health care reform has to be a part of that. The funny thing about Brown is that he campaigned in Massachusetts as a moderate, as you would expect, but became a Tea Party favourite as they dreamed of swiping Ted Kennedy's seat. It will be interesting to see how he plays his candidacy in New Hampshire, especially as outside money designs a message that may not be very moderate at all. The ad is effective for now, to the extent that ObamaCare is a negative proxy for President Obama, but that may change. In fact, the more popular ObamaCare becomes, the more likely Republicans are to start calling it the Affordable Care Act. B

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