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Is Obama a drag on Shaheen re-election in NH?

President Barack Obama’s popularity, like it or not, will have a bearing on the re-election efforts of Democratic incumbents in 2014, including New Hampshire U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

Shaheen will and is trying to distance herself from Obama’s coattails by standing on a platform - as depicted in her most recent television ad - of job creation and other issues that Granite Staters can personally relate to.

But Republicans who are trying to gain majority control in the U.S. Senate will and are wrapping Shaheen in the president’s coattails, in particular on the Affordable Care Act.

New Hampshire is one of the battleground states for control of the Senate. Shaheen will face the winner of a Republican primary that features former Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, former New Hampshire U.S. Sen. Bob Smith, and former state Sen. Jim Rubens.

National Public Radio recently included New Hampshire in a recent poll that measured Obama’s popularity in 12 Senate battleground states.

The poll found, according to NPR, that the president’s approval numbers in these states are lower than they are nationally — but not by much.

Said NPR: “In the 12 states with competitive Senate races this fall, only 38 percent of likely voters said they approved of the way the president is handling his job. An index of all national polls shows the president's approval rating about 4 percentage points higher nationwide.”

The most recent WMUR Granite State Poll concerning Obama, courtesy of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, is from April 2014 and it shows an approval rating of 39 percent. And the declining approval numbers are from Republicans (to be expected), Democrats and from the all-important independent voters in the state.

In fact, the declining approval of independents has been at a greater pace that the Republicans and Democrats. And that’s huge because there are more independent voters in the Granite State than there are registered Democrats and Republicans.

And what is the big issue that’s weighing down the president? Health care and the Affordable Care Act: 51 percent of New Hampshire voters, according to the UNH poll in April, oppose Obamacare, even though, despite a rocky start and crummy publicity, many Granite Staters are beginning to reap some of its benefits.

Shaheen’s favorability rating in an April WMUR Granite State Poll stood at 49 percent. Brown was at 29 percent, Smith at 21 percent and Rubens at 7 percent.

But polls are snapshots of the moment. What it all means for Shaheen is a challenge to create and sustain a message that her political interests revolve around Granite Staters, not the president. It’s a tough message to successfully deliver in the partisan din.

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