A new poll shows that U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., has increased her lead over Republican challenger Scott Brown, but the race remains tight.
The WMUR Granite State Poll shows Shaheen leading Brown 47-41 percent among likely voters who have definitely made up their minds or are leaning toward a candidate. In August, Shaheen led Brown 46-44 percent.
The poll of 681 randomly selected New Hampshire adults was conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center from Sept. 29 through Oct. 5 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.
The poll includes a sample of 532 likely voters with a margin of sampling error of 4.2 percentage points. Shaheen's lead is within the margin of error.
The poll also shows that Shaheen's favorability ratings have improved, while Brown has become increasingly unpopular. Fifty percent of New Hampshire adults surveyed had a favorable opinion of Shaheen, compared to 36 percent who had an unfavorable opinion of her.
Forty-eight percent of New Hampshire adults said they had an unfavorable opinion of Brown, compared to 29 percent with a favorable opinion. Brown's net favorability has declined to minus-19 percent, down significantly from minus-2 percent in August.
"There's a reason why she's gone so negative and using a smear campaign against me," Brown said. "And that’s because she knows she's in trouble and can't defend her votes."
On Tuesday, Brown called the latest ad from the Shaheen campaign a lie. It focuses an abortion-related bill that Brown co-sponsored during his time as a Massachusetts state senator.
The ad accuses Brown of supporting a policy that forces women seeking an abortion to look at color pictures of a developing fetus. While the bill's language included a provision about providing photographs, Brown argued there was never an intention to force women to look at anything.
Shaheen brushed off the poll as she continued to paint her opponent as an out-of-stater.
"The poll that matters is the poll on Election Day," Shaheen said. "We are working very hard trying to point out the difference between Scott Brown and me and who's best going to best work every day for New Hampshire."
While the number of undecided voters is declining, 43 percent said they are still trying to decide who to support. Forty-seven percent said they had definitely made up their minds, and 10 percent said they were leaning toward a candidate.
Andy Smith of the UNH Survey Center said there is room for Brown's numbers to grow if he can get through the negativity.
"Shaheen's numbers at 47-48 percent are close to a ceiling for her," Smith said. "She is really going to have to work hard to make Scott Brown as unpopular as she possibly can over the next month."
Voters who identify as Democrats or Republicans are showing solid support for their party's candidates, with 90 percent of Democrats supporting Shaheen and 81 percent of Republicans supporting Brown.
Shaheen has a small lead among independents, with 46 percent saying they support her, compared to 35 percent for Brown.