EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 6, 2012

N.H. Democrats have lots to celebrate

Democrats make some big gains

By John Toole jtoole@eagletribune.com
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Representative-elect Betsy Burtis had a lot to celebrate last night.

The Democratic committee chairman in Derry had won her race for the New Hampshire House on a breakthrough night that saw the Democrats deliver the state to President Obama, the governor’s office to Maggie Hassan, a seat in Congress to Ann McLane Kuster and make legislative gains.

Locked out of legislative seats from Rockingham County in a historic GOP landslide two years ago, the Democrats bounced back by grabbing two seats from Derry and one in Londonderry. Besides Burtis, Mary Till was a winner in Derry. Lisa Whittemore won in Londonderry.

“This is a good night all around,” Burtis said in a phone call from Hassan’s victory party in Manchester.

She admitted the win came as a surprise, because family health concerns had limited her campaigning in the weeks leading up to the election.

“I’m just thrilled and honored,” Burtis said.

That Obama and Hassan prevailed didn’t come as a surprise.

“What is surprising about New Hampshire is not that Obama and Hassan won, but the margins of their victory. Larger than polls projected,” University of New Hampshire political science professor Dante Scala said.

That meant political coattails down the ballot.

It may have helped Kuster in the 2nd Congressional District and it gave former Congressman Carol Shea-Porter a shot to beat Republican incumbent Frank Guinta in the 1st District.

“This is having ramifications down ticket. See both Congressional races,” Scala said.

Obama’s win was predictable, St. Anselm College assistant professor of politics Christopher Galdieri said.

“The campaign’s ground game and the number of visits from the president and other campaign surrogates clearly had their intended effect,” Galdieri said.

Hassan benefitted from having Obama at the top and Lamontage as an opponent, he said.

“I think Ovide never managed to shake his image as a candidate who’s been around the block once too many already and his views on social issues were out of sync with the 2012 electorate,” Galdieri said.

The 2nd Congressional District also wasn’t a shocker, in Galdieri’s view.

“Bass’s loss is not very surprising,” he said. “He won by a very narrow margin in a very good year for Republicans in 2010 and he’s increasingly out of place in today’s GOP.”

The results elated Democrats, especially their gains in the Legislature.

“At this point, we understand there is a 12-12 split in the Senate, still uncertain in the House, though Bill O’Brien’s leadership has clearly been decimated and we are still waiting to see if he has even won re-election,” Democratic Party spokesman Collin Gately said close to midnight.

Republicans were returning Sens. Chuck Morse of Salem, Jim Raush of Derry and Sharon Carson of Londonderry to office.