One Lawn Sign Perfectly Sums Up Scott Brown’s Campaign

"Stand with Obama. Vote for Shaheen."

As New Hampshire votes today, lawn signs read, “Stand with Obama, Vote for Shaheen.” They share the color scheme of Jeanne Shaheen’s normal lawn signs, but look closely, and you’ll notice that they are paid for by the New Hampshire Republican Party.

That’s no surprise to anyone who has seen the negative ads against Shaheen this election cycle. The president’s approval numbers are at record lows in the state, and Brown’s supporters have tried to capitalize on this by tying Shaheen to the President. In his story on the Brown campaign for this magazine, John Wolfson described the anti-Obama tone of the Brown campaign:

“Jeanne Shaheen agrees with President Obama 99 percent of the time,” Brown has said again and again on the campaign trail. When Mitt Romney came to New Hampshire to endorse Brown in July, he accused Shaheen of being Obama’s “Simon Says Senator.” In September, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie traveled to New Hampshire and ridiculed Shaheen for what he characterized as her constant support of Obama’s policies. “I don’t agree with myself 99 percent of the time,” Christie said.

This is a move straight out of the national Republican party’s playbook this year. All around the country, as Republicans threaten to retake control of the Senate, Democrats have tried to distance themselves from Obama. A New York Times story reported:

Former Senator John B. Breaux, a Louisiana Democrat, recalled a conversation with a Republican official in his home state who said the party’s campaign against Senator Mary L. Landrieu could be captured in two words: “Obama bad.”

Nor should this be surprising to anyone who recalls an election six years into any president’s term. A 1986 article in The Atlantic called “The Six Year Itch” describes it:

For decades political analysts have been intrigued by an ironclad pattern in American politics: the President’s party loses seats in the off-year election that follows his White House triumph–a phenomenon that has occurred in every off-year election save one since the Civil War.

Is a six year itch enough to propel Brown to victory in a new state? He’s gained steadily in the polls, though the race is still leaning toward Shaheen, according to Nate Silver. But we’ll find out for sure tonight.