When the 2010 U.S. Census showed Massachusetts did not have enough residents to keep 10 representatives on Capitol Hill, lawmakers had to cut a congressional district and Niki Tsongas saw hers dramatically redrawn and expanded.
Stretching mostly north and south from Haverhill to Wayland, her Congressional 5th District took a east-west shift to a New Hampshire border-hugging district stretching from Fitchburg to the Merrimack Valley. It was renamed the 3rd Congressional District and includes 11 new communities.
But did the geographical shift and expansion of the district also mean a shift in the make-up of the electorate?
Jon Golnik, a Carlisle Republican who is challenging Tsongas for the congressional seat for a second time, seems to think new district will help him score an upset Nov. 6. In 2010, Tsongas beat Golnik by a margin of 55 to 42 percent (122,858 votes to 94,646).
“The district is so big now,” s
aid Golnik. “Republicans can win out there. That’s obviously good for us.”
But local political watchers said the redrawn map is unlikely to play a significant part in the outcome.
“I don’t see — in terms of the make up of the district — it being that different,” said Frank Talty, a political science professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.
“Tsongas won with this sort of configuration twice. In a year (2010) where there was a Republican sweep, she was able to win.”
Richard Padova, a professor of history and political science at Northern Essex Community College, said the new district remains largely moderate to liberal despite the addition of several rural communities.
“Overall I would still say it’s primarily the Democrats’ to lose,” said Padova. “A lot of towns are fairly conservative, no doubt. Overall, I would say the district is a safe one for the Dem
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