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NH Sen: Poll Shows Ayotte Leading Hodes (If She Runs)

Courtesy of the University of New Hampshire, we get our first test of how state Attorney General Kelly Ayotte (R) polls in a hypothetical matchup for U.S. Senate against Rep. Paul Hodes (D). Ayotte has been the subject of speculation for weeks now, and as other candidates rule themselves out, she may be the best shot Granite State Republicans have to hold onto Judd Gregg's seat in 2010.

General Election Matchup
Ayotte 39
Hodes 35
Undecided 24

Hodes 40
Bass 38
Undecided 20

Hodes 45
Tausch 25
Undecided 29

Former Rep. Charlie Bass (R) has not indicated his plans yet, with the Senate race among his options if he returns to politics. Fred Tausch (R) is signaling he's likely to run, and is now airing TV ads to build his name ID. UNH also tested Hodes against Sununu and found the former senator trailing 43-41; he announced yesterday he would not run for the seat.

Fav/Unfav Ratings
Gregg 53/24
Shaheen 50/36
Hodes 32/23
Ayotte 40/8
Bass 33/23
Tausch 5/4
LaMontagne 5/4

Even Hodes, the second district congressman, has work to do to build his statewide profile. Forty percent of state voters were unfamiliar with Ayotte; the New Hampshire attorney general is an appointed position. Tausch and attorney Ovide LaMontagne, another potential Senate candidate, have almost no statewide profile.

The UNH survey of 558 adults was conducted from June 24-July 1, and had a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percent.