Republicans are counting on a favorable environment and target-rich map to carry them to a Senate majority in 2015. But standing between them and victory are a slew of Democratic incumbents who, while vulnerable, have one important advantage: People like them.
There’s no better example than in New Hampshire, home to one of the country’s most eagerly anticipated races after Scott Brown made a de facto campaign declaration earlier this month against Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. The former GOP senator from Massachusetts is a strong candidate in his own right, well-known and capable of raising millions of dollars. But his opponent is no ordinary incumbent: She’s a former six-year governor whose tenure stretches back decades in a small state where voters get to know their elected officials well.
And she has the poll numbers to back it up: Despite her vote for President Obama’s deeply unpopular health care law, half of New Hampshire’s adults regard Shaheen positively, according to a WMUR Granite State poll from January. (Only 34 percent viewed her unfavorably.) In other words, she’s in a far different place politically than the last Democratic woman Brown took down to earn a place in the Senate.