Don't Cry for Me, Rasmussen
You may have come across a reference today to some new polling from Rasmussen showing that both former New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte and businessman Bill Binnie lead Congressman Paul Hodes by 10 points in head-to-head match-ups in the race for Judd Gregg’s U.S. Senate seat. This comes at a time when I was actually starting to see suggestions among some national political observers that Hodes was finally getting his campaign on track.
Let’s put aside questions about Rasmussen’s status as a Republican-leaning outlier among polling firms for the moment. These results underscore the power of advertising dollars (Binnie’s), and the potential viability of Bill Binnie as an alternative to Kelly Ayotte. In contrast, the underlying dynamics between Ayotte and Hodes (and thus the overall race) haven’t changed much since last fall. But now both Ayotte and Binnie fill the same role of opposition to the Democratic status quo, which is what is largely being measured in that 10 point Republican margin.
For those of you fretting about Democratic chances in November, I still expect the race between Hodes and either Ayotte or Binnie to tighten, but it may take awhile. In a post last month, I wrote about why Hodes might not be able to close the gap until next fall, given that the Republican primary doesn’t take place until September. With the Republican contest heating up, Hodes will continue to stay busy with what he hopes is high-visibility legislative activity and constituency service. But in terms of the potential for generating measurable campaign effects to close the gap, he is essentially forced to cool his heels on the sidelines until such time that he can get into direct competition with an opposing campaign. If we are still having this conversation about potential campaign effects in mid-October, then you’ll know that Hodes is truly in trouble.

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