NH challengers have their own roadmaps to victory

Oct. 24 – CONCORD – Thanks to fickle voters, New Hampshire has a 20-year history, with one exception, of firing at least one federal officeholder in midterm elections.

With the next one looming in 15 days, U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan, RN.H., and Reps. Chris Pappas and Annie Kuster, DN.H., and Republican Gov. Chris Sununu are all hoping angry and angry voters financially insecure will not. decide to send a message replacing them.

This foursome’s re-election chances are quite different, but this is New Hampshire where politics is a blood sport.

Translation: in this highly volatile environment, no one can be 100% sure that they will declare victory on election night.

“I’m running like I’m 15 points behind,” Sununu said, despite being more than 15 points ahead of Democratic challenger Tom Sherman in the latest independent polls.

Every four years, midterm elections bring out a smaller, often better-informed electorate, and they have been a springboard for many who later made a splash in the pool.

Consider these historical truths about what the midterm elections ushered in:

— Eight of the last 10 elected to US House seats in NH won the first time midterm, the only exceptions being Rep. Kuster in 2012 and former Congressman John E. Sununu in 1996 ;

—In the past 60 years, eight of 11 U.S. senators have won their first midterm victory, the Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (2004) and the former Sens. Judd Gregg (1992) and the late Senator Warren Rudman (1980) breaking that mold and;

— The last incumbent governor to lose midterm dates back 40 years, when engineer John H. Sununu retired from late Democratic Governor Hugh Gallen in 1982.

Former GOP Governor Craig Benson lost in the 2004 presidential election, the first governor in 78 years who voters refused a second term.


“It would take the version of a political asteroid hitting Chris Sununu for him to lose,” predicted Dante Scala, a politics professor at the University of New Hampshire.

Sununu’s political future was brightened when he decided last November to end his very strong flirtation with Sen. Maggie Hassan, DN.H., he said.

“Sherman needed a really good Democratic year and a broken down incumbent that voters were ready to fire,” Scala said.

“When Sununu decided he wasn’t interested in going to Washington, the reaction from most voters was, ‘Hey, he’s one of us.'”

Winning a fourth two-year term is not a lay-up, however.

Democrat John Lynch was the first in modern history to do so, surviving the 2010 conservative Tea Party election that gave Republicans a 3-to-1 supermajority in the Legislative Assembly.

Former GOP campaign consultant Greg Moore led Lynch’s opponent, former Health and Human Services Commissioner John Stephen, who posed a serious threat but still lost by 8 points.

“To be fair to Tom Sherman, we had the wind at our back. He runs with a gust of wind in his face,” Moore said.

But Steve Marchand of Portsmouth, a two-time Democratic gubernatorial candidate, said New Hampshire was the nation’s most pro-choice swing state and Sununu’s signature on an abortion ban after 24 weeks would be his Achilles heel.

“Tom Sherman is a smart and hard-working candidate who, in a relatively short time, has put his candidacy in a position to shock the pundits,” Marchand said.

“Gubernatorial races are intensely personal and while this governor votes well, after six years in office, every governor bears a lot of scars.”

US Senate On the evening of the primaries, the Democratic leaders could not hide their enthusiasm that the Republicans had delivered the candidate they wanted and even invested, retired Brig. General Don Bolduc of Stratham.

How do they think now that Bolduc, an underfunded candidate who had to go back or change past statements, could come close to bringing down Hassan, a senator and former governor?

“I never thought I would say this, but Hassan is not off the hook yet,” Scala said. “She can see the light but I don’t think she’s there yet.”

Moore agreed it would take a dominating GOP victory in any poll for Bolduc to succeed.

“There’s a path to victory for Don Bolduc. He’s got to grab that surfboard and ride it into power, that’s what it’s going to take,” Moore said.

Marchand said the state GOP will regret choosing Bolduc as its standard bearer.

“Maggie runs a smart race and was able to make this New Hampshire center,” Marchand said.

“They know her well and I really think Bolduc is too far removed from the mainstream to win voters’ trust.”

US House, 1st District No matter who the opponent was, Pappas couldn’t feel safe. After all, he is running in a constituency where voters dumped the incumbent in five out of six consecutive elections ending in 2016.

He now faces Hampton’s Karoline Leavitt, an aggressive young first-time prospect with White House communication skills.

“I think from day one, Leavitt and her team had a theory of how to win and they executed it to perfection. They knew that in this climate there would be an audience for someone like her.” , Scala said.

“She’s very conservative, very Trumpian and none of that these days is disqualifying.”

Marchand said Pappas, with 20 years of experience in political office, has won races in good and bad environments.

It’s no coincidence that Pappas won his second term in 2018, the only midterm since 2002 where all federal candidates have survived, Marchand said.

“Chris has great sympathy, deep roots in the state and time and time again he has outplayed Democrats in the past,” Marchand said.

Moore predicted Leavitt would defeat 2020 GOP nominee Matt Mowers, and said Pappas couldn’t escape a political paradigm with undecided voters picking the generic GOP nominee over inflation, the economy and global growth. ‘use.

“More than any other Democrat, he’s stuck between a laser-focused opponent and being on the wrong side when it comes to what upsets voters,” Moore said.

U.S. House, 2nd District Kuster has won five straight, more than any other Democrat in modern history, and built a multimillion-dollar war chest while his opponent, Pembroke businessman Bob Burns , had to run with little means.

National GOP alumni have ignored this race, concluding that they will take control of the United States House without it.

“We keep underestimating Kuster, her favor is never strong, but all she does is win,” Scala said.

“By any metric, she’s in the best shape and it would take Bob Burns to complete a 95-yard pass, Hail Mary to win this thing.”

Marchand said Burns’ support for new restrictions on legal abortions meant the little-known challenger was on the defense.

“Chris Sununu will wake up after the election and regret not being able to get his Republican candidate (George Hansel) across the finish line,” Marchand said.

“If that had happened, we would be looking at a much more competitive race right now.”

Moore said Burns’ hopes were tied to the extent to which swing voters would overlook differences on issues or even choose the unknown.

“It would take a tsunami for Burns to win, but it’s happened before. In 2010, every type of Republican automatically won, and then a good number of them were eliminated just two years later,” Moore said. .

“Is it a wave election? You can’t rule it out.”

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