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New Poll Shows Ayotte With Early Lead in N.H.

A new poll released Monday in the New Hampshire Senate race showed former state Attorney General Kelly Ayotte (R) with a 7-point lead over Rep. Paul Hodes (D), although a quarter of the voters surveyed were undecided a little more than a year before Election Day.

According to new poll results from the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, Ayotte led Hodes 40 percent to 33 percent ­— a slight increase over her 4-point advantage in a similar June poll of the race.

The poll also showed Ayotte, who has attracted several primary challengers since her announcement, with more consolidated party support than Hodes had. Ayotte was backed by 76 percent of self-identified Republicans, while Hodes was favored by 61 percent of Democrats.

But it wasn’t all good news for Ayotte: 37 percent of respondents had a favorable view of her, down from 45 percent in June, before she announced her campaign. At the same time, Ayotte’s unfavorable marks remained constant at 8 percent over the course of the two polls.

Since announcing her candidacy in July, Ayotte has drawn a handful of primary opponents. The poll showed Hodes ahead of two of those Republicans, attorney Ovide Lamontagne and Republican National Committeeman Sean Mahoney, 37 percent to 28 percent, with 33 percent undecided.

Survey respondents gave Hodes a 30 percent favorable rating — the lowest of the year for the two-term Democrat. In his own district, Hodes scored 38 percent — a lower favorable rating than fellow Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (N.H.), who had a 42 percent favorable rating in the more conservative 1st district.

Sen. Judd Gregg (R) is retiring next year, leaving a wide-open race for his seat. The poll, taken Sept. 25 to Oct. 2, interviewed 466 likely voters and had a margin of error of 5 points.

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