EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

October 7, 2012

Democrats hope for gains in NH House

Polls, redistricting spur optimism

Polls and, surprisingly, legislative redistricting are giving Democrats hope they can reverse the historic Republican landslide of 2010 and pick up seats in the New Hampshire House.

Even Republicans concede that gains by Democrats are inevitable in a presidential election year which brings out large numbers of voters.

Republicans hold a 288-102 majority with 10 vacancies. Republicans control all the legislative seats in Southern New Hampshire.

But the last two elections produced major political swings in the House.

House records show Democrats held a 231-158 majority going into the 2010 election, while Republicans had a 242-150 majority entering the 2008 campaign. There were vacancies in the 400-seat House during those campaigns.

Both parties had issues working in their favor nationally in the years they prevailed. In 2008, Democrats were buoyed by war fatigue and distrust of Wall Street amid the financial collapse. Two years ago, doubts about health care reforms and government spending boosted Republicans.

Democrat Carolyn Webber of Windham said polls giving President Barack Obama a 5- to 15-point edge over Mitt Romney and putting gubernatorial nominee Maggie Hassan in a tight race with Ovide Lamontagne are encouraging for those down the ballot.

“I feel I have a chance to win,” she said.

Four years ago, Webber was the first Democrat from Windham elected to the House in decades, she said.

She’s pushing for a return, knocking on doors and putting up signs.

“I’m not taking anything for granted,” she said.

In Salem, political newcomer Susan Desmet is heartened by the polls, too.

“I think that could be a good sign that Democrats could take it,” Desmet said.

She sees redistricting as a help to Democrats trying to win House seats in Salem. Salem had shared a district with Windham for a decade and Republicans dominated. Now, both towns are in standalone districts.

“It’s just our community and the people who know us who are voting,” Desmet said.

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