Something Different For Decision Desk HQ Readers Tonight In New Hampshire:
Look, you are going to read plenty of race previews for New Hampshire, if you’re that big of an election junkie. So let’s get right to the real exciting element about today: live precinct-level interactive returns for both competitive primaries in the 1st Congressional District. We selected this particular district because it has reflected the national Congressional vote rather well in the preceding five elections, it isn’t readily available information like it would be from a race in Georgia or Pennsylvania, and it forced us to retool our collection system with a wonderful potential side benefit: theoretically faster returns statewide in a place where “fast” has been a fantasy.
Decision Desk HQ has dozens of reporters that will relay data on this level back to our processing team, and our partners at 0ptimus and the great precinct maestro Ryne Rohla have developed a wonderful interactive that, I’m sure, will keep the lot of you mesmerized throughout the evening.
If today’s experiment is successful, we intend to expand it statewide in time for the Presidential primary in 2020, with a goal of delivering over half of the state’s unofficial returns by 9pm local time. Those of you who have covered New Hampshire politics know what a big deal that is, because of how returns have been traditionally reported, whether by us, the AP, or numerous local papers covering state offices. Every big change starts somewhere, and for us, that’s right here in the Granite State.
We hope you all will enjoy our little test.
New Hampshire Race Previews:
Forty-six states have held their primaries as of today, and the Granite State finally joins their ranks, about sixteen months before their next Presidential brouhaha that will attract reporters and election geeks from the world over.
Governor’s race: Democratic Primary
Incumbent Governor Chris Sununu has no declared primary challengers, so any statewide interest rests upon the Democratic side. Two candidates have entered the arena to challenge Mr. Sununu: Molly Kelly and Steve Marchand. Kelly has received the endorsements of both Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, along with numerous state officials. Marchand endorsed Bernie Sanders in 2016 and is running to her left on most items. Kelly is the perceived front runner and would be expected to dominate in the large cities of Concord, Manchester, Nashua, and Portsmouth. Any hint of an upset by Marchand will come first from stronger showings in each of these plus domination in college towns like Hanover (Dartmouth), Henniker (New England College), Keene (Keene State), and Durham (UNH), along with a smattering of other early tells like Laconia and Rochester.
U.S. House 2nd Congressional District: Republican Primary
Incumbent Democratic Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster faces no declared opposition, so all of the action in the district that has re-elected her since her initial 2012 win is on the Republican side. The district is the more Democratic of the two in the state, interestingly voting for Rep. Kuster by virtually identical margins in the last two Presidential cycles, and one you would probably suspect would reward a slightly more moderate candidate in the primary. But not so, at least from the rhetoric and actions of each vying for the office. A recent NH Poll found that 40% of the state’s Republicans would welcome a primary challenge to Trump, but most candidates have embraced either the core campaign platform or style of the President. Gerald Beloin wants to “clean up the swamp”. Lynne Blankenbeker, Stewart Levenson, and Bob Burns have run hard on fighting illegal immigration, each citing the death of Mollie Tibbetts on the campaign trail. Two have run on their outsider status, Brian Belanger and Jay Mercer. Comparatively, the sole incumbent state Representative running, Steve Negron, seems to be running a pre-2016 style campaign. Expect each to perform strongest in their hometowns,with Negron probably leaping a bit ahead when Nashua, the largest city in the district, rolls in around 8:15-8:45pm.
U.S. House 1st Congressional District: Republican and Democratic Primaries
With incumbent Democratic Representative Carol Shea Porter retiring, it was open season for both parties to hold one of the most fought-over districts in the nation. Rep. Shea Porter, after all, had unseated Rep. Frank Guinta, who had unseated her, who had unseated Guinta, who had unseated her, all in the last four cycles.
On the Republican side, State Senator Andy Sanborn and Eddie Edwards have been bruising each other over who is the “real conservative” for much of the primary season, and lead a pack of six contenders. Sanborn is perceived in most circles as the outright front runner, and with a district stretching from Bedford to Jaffrey, incidentally including a chunk of early reporting townships in the state, expect an early lead for him regardless the outcome.
On the Democratic side, despite a massive eleven candidate field, it likely comes down to just two: Maura Sullivan and Chris Pappas. The former is considered a rising star who recently moved to New Hampshire and has raised nearly all of her money from outside of the state. Despite that outsider status, her nearly $2 million raised and an Emily’s List endorsement has given her a serious shot against establishment-backed Pappas, who has the endorsement of both U.S. Senators and Rep. Kuster.