Hassan campaign memo to donors sounds alarm over polling... or did it?

Hassan campaign memo to donors sounds alarm over polling... or did it?
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

A memo written by Senator Maggie Hassan’s campaign manager was leaked to Axios. The memo sounds an alarm that Democrats should not believe polling in the race because polls have been so wrong in recent election cycles. Campaign manager Aaron Jacobs wrote, ”While many Democrats are not taking Don Bolduc seriously, national Republicans are spending tens of millions on his behalf.”


The question is whether or not Jacobs is seriously worried about the complacency of Democrat voters who assume Hassan has this race in the bag and see the favorable polling for Hassan or if this memo is just a fundraising letter. My first impression while reading the memo was the latter. It’s a fundraising effort to counter Republican spending or Bolduc.

At the beginning of this election cycle, Hassan was labeled as the most vulnerable of the Senate incumbents running for re-election. It was supposed to be a Republican pick-up, if the stars aligned and a strong GOP candidate challenger was chosen. In the GOP primary, Bolduc didn’t receive the endorsement of Donald Trump, a primary opponent did. Since he won the primary, Bolduc has been accompanied on the campaign trail by fellow Republicans like Nikki Haley. Switching into general election mode, Bolduc has flipped flopped on some issues in order to appeal to a wider audience. He is no longer willing to support Trump’s claims of a rigged election in 2020 and he does not support Lindsey Graham’s bill that puts a federal ban on abortions after fifteen weeks.

Nonetheless, Hassan leads in polling. Today, Real Clear Politics aggregated averaging has Hassan up 9.3 points. All recent polling shows a strong lead well outside the margin of error in favor of Hassan. So, what’s with the red flags over the polling? As I said, it looks like a push for fundraising and to keep voters motivated to get out and vote. The memo makes four key points, the top off which is he fact that Republicans are “pouring” money into Bolduc’s campaign.


1. “National Republicans Are Pouring in $30 Million to Defeat Senator Hassan & Outspending Democrats”

2. Public Polling is Wrong — Again

Jacobs recalls last cycle’s Senate race in Maine, where Sara Gideon was seen as leading Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) only to lose.

3. “The National Environment Has Not Magically Changed for Democrats”

“In fact, there are clear signs that the ground is shifting away from Democrats again and, given historical trends in midterm elections and particular headwinds in 2022, the national environment continues to remain very challenging for our party.”

4. More resources are needed to make the case on abortion rights

It’s interesting to see Jacobs admit that polling favors Democrats.

In a section headlined “The Public Polling is Wrong — Again,” Jacobs writes, “The polls are sugar-coated for any Democratic candidate. Democrats learned this the hard way in Maine last cycle, where pollsters continuously found a big lead for the Democratic candidate.” (Sen. Susan Collins [R-Maine] was re-elected in 2020 despite not a single poll showing her with a lead and some polls showing her behind Democrat Sara Gideon by double digits.)

“You should be leery of any public polling showing Sen. Hassan leading this race outside the margin of error,” Jacobs wrote. “Our own internal polling shows that Don Bolduc is quickly consolidating the Republican base and is rapidly making up ground against Sen. Hassan. While many public polls still show Bolduc only getting 80 percent of the Republican base, our own polling shows that he will get the 90+ percent of Republicans that is typically the case for a GOP nominee — and is therefore well on his way to making this a tied race.”

Which is why, Jacobs concludes, “in a politically volatile and swingy state like New Hampshire, it will take significant investment again to prevent a Republican from winning this seat in what is an incredibly challenging national environment for our party.”


See what he did there? Jacobs warns against Democrats falling for the happy talk in the media about Democrat polling and then says “it will take significant investment” to win. Send Hassan more money.

Bolduc’s campaign was pleased to see the memo.

“After millions of dollars spent lying about Gen. Bolduc’s record, Sen. Hassan’s campaign has conceded the obvious: her pathetic and desperate attempts to shift the conversation from her abysmal record in the Senate aren’t working,” said Kate Constantini, Bolduc for U.S. Senate campaign spokeswoman. “Her lies about abortion and Medicare have fallen flat, and this race remains a jump ball. No wonder she is avoiding town hall meetings and ducking debates.

“Sen. Hassan has failed the people of New Hampshire and now those chickens are coming home to roost.”

The same day the memo was leaked, the latest Suffolk University poll was released. It shows Hassan up 50-41 and her favorable rating has risen to 48 percent, the highest in a year.

There is truly no reason to believe that Bolduc will win this race at this point, unfortunately. It is interesting, though, to see how Hassan’s campaign is handling the last weeks of the campaign. I agree with the memo that this cycle certainly favors Republicans but not in this race. It seems to me that this memo’s objective is to keep donors on their toes and sending in donations. And, it is to make sure Hassan’s supporters get out and vote in November. I’d love to be wrong on this prediction but Hassan has led in all polling since the primary. The race may tighten as November approaches but I don’t think it will be enough for Bolduc to win. Republicans in New Hampshire snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with this seat in the Senate.


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John Sexton 3:20 PM on September 26, 2023