New Hampshire’s leftward move for House could be undermined by its shift to right in the legislature


The 1st Congressional District in the eastern part of the state has been one of the swingiest seats in the nation for years, but like the state as a whole, it was friendly turf for Team Blue this time. The district bounced from a tiny 50-49 edge for Barack Obama in 2012 to a just-as-slender 48-47 Trump win four years ago, but Biden carried it by a relatively comfortable 52-46 margin.

The 1st has also been especially volatile in House races, though Democrats have also done better here in recent years. Democrat Carol Shea-Porter flipped it in a 2006 shocker, but she lost her bid for a third term to Republican Frank Guinta during the 2010 red wave. Shea-Porter won it back from Guinta in 2012 as Obama was carrying the district, but Guinta returned in 2014 to unseat her. Shea-Porter, however, came back again in 2016 to beat Guinta during their fourth matchup, despite Trump’s slim advantage.

That was the last time, though, that either Shea-Porter or Guinta appeared on the ballot. Shea-Porter decided not to run again in 2018, and fellow Democrat Chris Pappas decisively won the contest to succeed her. Pappas, who is the state’s first gay member of Congress, won reelection against Republican Matt Mowers 51-46 this year in a race that attracted no serious outside spending.

The 2nd District in western and northern New Hampshire, meanwhile, has traditionally leaned more toward Democrats than the 1st. Biden carried the district 54-45, which was also a decisive shift to the left from Clinton’s 49-46 victory.

Republican incumbent Charlie Bass lost this seat in the 2006 blue wave against Democrat Paul Hodes, but he narrowly won it back in 2010 against Democrat Annie Kuster after Hodes left to unsuccessfully run for the Senate. Kuster, though, defeated Bass in their 2012 rematch, and she decisively held on during the 2014 GOP wave. Kuster prevailed 50-46 in 2016 against an underfunded Republican as Clinton was carrying her seat by a similar margin, but she had no trouble in 2018 or 2020 in successive matchups with Republican Steve Negron.

While Granite State Democrats performed well in federal elections this year, though, the upcoming round of redistricting could cost them a seat. Not only was Republican Gov. Chris Sununu decisively reelected, the GOP also retook control of the state House and Senate two years after losing both chambers.

Republicans likewise controlled the redistricting process after the 2010 elections (due then to their legislative supermajorities), but ironically, their success that year constrained their ambitions. Both Guinta and Bass had just flipped seats, and since there was no way for Republican mapmakers to shore up one congressman without hurting the other, they made only slight adjustments to the district lines. Incumbent protection is no longer a concern for Republicans this time, though, so we could see more aggressive changes to a congressional map that has largely remained unaltered since 1881.

We’ll turn next to Massachusetts, where Republicans last won a House race in 1994. Biden took the Bay State 66-32, which was also a shift to the left from Clinton’s 61-33 win. Biden, like Clinton, also carried all nine congressional districts. (You can find a link to our map here.)

The only seat where Biden didn’t hit 60% of the vote was the 9th District on Cape Cod and the South Shore, but he still came close. Biden won 58-40 here, an improvement over Clinton’s 53-42 performance, while Democratic Rep. Bill Keating won his sixth term 62-36. Biden’s best showing in the state by far was in Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s 7th District, a diverse Boston-area constituency that he took 85-13.

The next round of redistricting is likely to produce another favorable map for Democrats. While Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s term will last through the start of 2023, Democrats maintained supermajorities in both chambers of the legislature, allowing them to override the governor’s vetoes.





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