The last two midterm elections in New Hampshire broke records for the state's political parties. In 2006, Democrats had their most successful election since the 1870s. In the 2010 elections, Republicans had their biggest gains ever and that is saying something given the state's Republican history.
But in 2014, while the election environment is favorable to Republicans, political strategists in both parties seem to agree that it won't be a huge wave year in New Hampshire like the last two.
"This is not some campaign we Republicans can just run on autopilot and we'll win," said a senior staffer on a major Republican campaign in the state who didn't want to be named given the sensitivity of his position. "This is not a wave year and we'll just have to grind it out."
Recent polling numbers back up this thinking. New Hampshire has four major races on the ballot this fall: governor, U.S. Senate, and the state's two Congressional races. As it stands this weekend, Democrats are poised to win two if not three of those seats. That is hardly a wave for either party.
This was supposed to be better year for New Hampshire Republicans. Historically the president's party loses seats when it comes to midterm elections. Only twice in the last hundred years did the president's party actually gain seats in Washington.
Nationally Republicans are expected to add to their majority in the U.S. House and even take the majority in the U.S. Senate. This fact, only adds to the idea that New Hampshire Republicans might be an outlier.
There are three reasons why this is happening locally. First, New Hampshire is slowly becoming more of a Democratic state. While the state is considered a swing state, the fact remains that Democratic presidential candidates have won the state five out of the last six times, a Democrat has won the governor's race eight out of the last nine times and three of the four members of the state's Washington delegation are Democrats.
The second reason is that Republicans had a bit of a problem recruiting candidates. Both candidates for the two statewide campaigns had residency issues and got into the race late.
Third, in all of these four major races, Republicans are facing Democratic incumbents, who have name recognition and have had years of raising money for their campaign war chest.
All that said, Republicans still could pull out more wins than is currently expected. They have a lot of advantages built in this year. To begin with the latest WMUR Granite State Poll found that Republicans are eight points more likely to vote than Democrats. This is something that Democrats are trying to change with a visit from Bill Clinton last week and Hillary Clinton coming two days before the election.
Speaking to New Hampshire Democrats on Thursday night, Clinton said that this year won't be like Republican wave years like 1994 and 2010 if Democrats show up to the polls.
Also, Democratic President Barack Obama remains unpopular in the state, with just 38 percent of Granite Staters saying they approve the job he is doing.
This complicated nature of this election year means that both parties will continue to advertise heavily on television, and either call or knock on homes of likely voters.
(James Pindell covers politics for WMUR. You can see his breaking news and analysis at WMUR.com/political scoop and on WMUR-TV.)
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