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As the 2014 midterm elections draw closer, an avalanche of polling data will emerge on the key races that will decide who controls the House of Representatives, the Senate, and statehouses across the country. What follows is a brief summary of some key polls from the week of April 6:

New Hampshire
Former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown officially entered New Hampshire’s 2014 Senate race this week, and was immediately greeted with polls confirming his underdog status against incumbent Democrat Jeanne Shaheen.

A Granite State poll released Thursday found Shaheen with a 45 to 39 percent lead over Brown, with 14 percent undecided. The poll, which was sponsored by WMUR-TV and conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, suggests that the race has plenty of room to move; just 17 percent of respondents said they have definitely decided which candidate they’ll support.

The poll also asked voters give one word to describe each of the candidates; in a worrisome sign for the recently relocated Brown, 15 percent — including 29 percent of Independents — described him as a “carpetbagger” or “outsider.”

A Public Policy Polling survey, released Thursday, contained even worse news for Brown. That poll showed Shaheen with a 49 to 41 percent lead, with 10 percent undecided.

While respondents were split on their opinion of Shaheen — 47 percent approve of her job performance, while 46 percent disapprove — they strongly dislike Brown;. 49 percent view the likely Republican nominee unfavorably, while just 35 percent view him favorably.

According to The Huffington Post’s polling average of the race, Shaheen leads Brown by 8 percent.

Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) is widely viewed as one of the most endangered incumbents in the country, but the latest poll of his race against U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton paints a different picture.

A new survey from Opinion Research Associates finds Pryor opening up a 48 to 38 percent lead over Cotton, with 10 percent undecided. Pryor’s double-digit lead sits outside of the poll’s +/- 5 percent margin of error.

In addition to his big deficit, Cotton should be concerned with the poll’s question on the Affordable Care Act — 49 percent of respondents said they are “tired of hearing about the debate over the health care law” and want to move on to other issues, while 47 percent said they think it’s important to keep debating it.

The new poll is one of several reasons that Democrats are reportedly feeling optimistic about Pryor’s chances of winning a third term. Still, most other surveys show a much closer race; Pryor leads by just over 2 points in The Huffington Post’s poll average.

For the second straight week, six-term senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) got encouraging news about his primary battle against Mississippi state senator Chris McDaniel.

Harper Polling, a Republican firm, released a survey on Monday finding Cochran with a 52 to 35 percent lead. That’s a 7 percent improvement for McDaniel since Harper’s previous poll in December, but still leaves him with a sizeable deficit to close before the June 3 primary.

Meanwhile, controversy continues to follow the Tea Party challenger; a week after McDaniel was criticized for his ties to a white nationalist, audio emerged of him using controversial language (to put it mildly) to describe reparations for slavery, immigration, homosexuality, and other topics.

Former congressman Travis Childers, a moderate Democrat, will face the Republican nominee in the general election. Many Democrats believe he would have a fighting chance if the gaffe-prone McDaniel wins the primary.

Florida governor Rick Scott’s (R) re-election hopes continue improve, according to a Voter Survey Service poll released Monday.

The poll, which was commissioned by Sunshine State News, finds Scott leading former governor Charlie Crist (D) 45 to 44 percent, with 10 percent undecided. That 1-point advantage is within the poll’s +/- 3.46 percent margin of error.

Among voters who say that they have an excellent or good chance of voting in November, Scott’s lead swells to 49 to 42 percent. That’s very encouraging news for the governor, considering Republicans’ likely turnout advantage in the off-year election.

Should Scott successfully win a second term, it would mark an impressive political comeback; just one year ago, Scott’s approval rating was in the low 30s, and he trailed Crist by double digits.

Photo: Talk Radio News Service via Flickr

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