Unlike other close races—like those in Arkansas, Kentucky, or Alaska, all conservative states where Obama’s approval numbers have been underwater since he was elected in 2008—strong dissatisfaction with Obama’s second term in New Hampshire only emerged mid-2013. The president’s popularity in the state has continued to wane as foreign policy and national security emerged over the summer as the dominant force on the campaign trail.
A slew of potential 2016 Republican candidates visiting the state this summer and fall have also echoed the message that Democrats are undermining America’s place in the world. And Brown has not wasted the opportunity to join in and exploit the Obama administration’s struggles overseas.
In ads, Brown never misses the chance to show Shaheen smiling alongside the president. Whether the focus is the danger of immigrants slipping across the border or the potential for ISIS to attack, Brown has found a resonating message in tying Shaheen to Obama’s blunders.
The President’s numbers are so in the tank, and his policies are so widely loathed that 2014 was virtually a “self-nationalizing” election. The national GOP failed to capitalize on that, preferring to think small.
But Brown proved formidable at retail politics in 2009, so maybe he can pull this off again in 2014.