James Pindell - lt's not looking like a 'wave' election year

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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Bob Meade - Who do you trust?

There's an old axiom that states, "People buy from people they trust". That doesn't mean that you've never bought something and it turned out that the person from whom you bought it wasn't trustworthy. What it means is that untrustworthy person is unlikely to have you buy anything else from him or her again. And, you will probably go out of your way to share your experience with others. If you've had a good experience with a realtor, you will recommend that realtor to others. The same goes for your experience in buying an automobile, choosing a dry-cleaner, or a carpenter, or auto repair shop, etc., etc. Trust! It's an important part of our lives.

As we are nearing a very important election day, trust is, or should be, a foremost consideration in deciding our vote. We watch as political ads on television negatively hammer opposing candidates. All too often, the ads paint an untrue or distorted picture of the other candidate in an effort to "scare" voters away from the targeted opponent. Often, made up or phony "issues" are manufactured in order to pander to a particular group of voters. In some cases, the ads are repeated over and over again. As history has shown, if a lie is repeated often enough, it becomes accepted as truth.

We have seen a serious decline in people's "trust" of politicians. Stonewalling, distorting, pandering, dividing, and outright lies are occurring on a daily basis as politicians seek a political advantage or try to eliminate or minimize a charge made against them. Legal requirements are shunted aside as the art of stonewalling threatens the ability of our government to function as it was intended.

Not only have we seen a decline in the people's trust of politicians, we witness on a daily basis the distrust among politicians and among the branches of government. We see the Senate majority leader hold about 300 bills that were passed by the House of Representative, not letting any of them be assigned to a Senate committee, or be brought to the floor for a vote. Having done that, the majority leader and other members of his party, including the president, then repeat the lie that the Congress has failed to act. We note too, that the president has arbitrarily and unilaterally made changes to the Affordable Care Act, in violation of the law itself. Yet, he has refused to ask Congress to review and modify the act, as the law requires. It's all about "trust", or lack thereof.

The Senate majority leader puts the work of Congress aside so as to spare his Democrat senators from having to vote on issues that may put them in a bad light with voters in the coming election. Further, if those Senators voted as the people would like and the bills were passed, then the accept or reject position would fall to the president. So in order to protect them from accountability with the voters, the leadership simply stonewalls and blames the Congress.

When he was first elected, a reporter asked President Obama how he was to be judged. He responded by saying, judge me by the people I have around me. As this is being written, there have been three key people who served in Cabinet level positions and, since they left those positions, have written books about their experiences with the president. None have been complimentary as each has indicated that the president would listen, but ultimately, reject their advice and counsel. Our retired and in service military leaders are openly imploring the president on the need to take certain actions, but to this time, he has ignored their advice. It again comes down to a matter of trust. Evidently, the president surrounded himself with his choice of cabinet-level people but, he has been unwilling to trust their judgments. Now, those same people are showing that they don't trust his.

Our government isn't functioning as it was intended. Actions and decisions are being made based on gaining a political party advantage and not what's best for the country. The world is in turmoil. We can't wish war away. If a nation or a group declares war and fights against us, whether we acknowledge it or not, we too, are at war. As a country, we can be war weary, but that is not reason enough to not defend our country, our citizens, and our freedoms. That defense will take political and military leadership. It will also require "trust" to be re-ignited in our politicians so that they put the needs of our country before the wants of their political party.

Between now and November 4, please put politics aside and consider what's best for our country, what's needed to get our government functioning as true co-equal branches. And vote like the future for your kids and grand-kids depends on it. It does!

(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident.)

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James Pindell - There's something about Derry

DERRY — Few consider the political nuances of Derry, the state's fourth-largest community, but it actually makes a lot of sense that both Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and her Republican challenger Scott Brown were in Derry last Tuesday looking for a fight.

In fact, if there was a day that could perfectly encapsulate the 2014 New Hampshire U.S. Senate contest it was Tuesday.

First, there is Derry itself, a key battleground for the the Senate contest. The town's size alone should grab anyone's attention. The southern New Hampshire town has a larger population than all of Coos County. Derry is not a battleground in the sense that is evenly mixed between Republicans and Democrats. The split in Derry is between Republicans and independents. Usually Derry is represented by just Republicans in the Statehouse, but President Barack Obama's re-election campaign meant that now two of the nine representatives were Democrats. Republican Mitt Romney beat Obama here in 2012 by 51 percent to 47 percent.

Still, if Brown is going to win he will need to tally up big numbers in Derry. He knows this. On his first weekend officially exploring a Senate run, he visited Derry. When he was going to bring in Sen. John McCain to do just one event, Brown said it should be in Derry. Brown's first ad of the general election featured Brown talking to the camera from a diner in Derry. When Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was going to make his first trip to New Hampshire in two years, which he did on Tuesday, they headed to Derry.

"Derry Day" is instructive because it speaks to the level of sophistication of these campaigns. While Brown wanted a day to woo Derry with Rubio, Shaheen knows that Brown's win margin here is what matters. If she can show up, limit the damage here, and mess with Brown's day, then that's a win. This may make logical sense to you, but this level of thought and execution usually only happens with presidential campaigns.

The day started with Shaheen announcing she will begin running probably the most negative television ad yet of her campaign. While Rubio and Brown wanted to talk about foreign policy, Shaheen decided she wanted everyone to talk about women's issues instead. Her ad highlighted two bills Brown co-sponsored in the Massachusetts legislature that would have added waiting periods before a woman could get an abortion. Sure, Brown might say he is pro-choice, Shaheen told a crowd at a small business tucked in a Derry strip mall, "but look at what he does."

Brown quickly responded and accepted the premise that foreign policy would have to wait another day for news coverage. At a press conference before the Rubio event he stood with his wife and called on Shaheen to take down the ad, which he called "a lie."

This political fight on this day is also what this Senate campaign has been all about for months. Any given day are we supposed to be talking about Brown's personality and record or are we supposed to be talking about Shaheen helping Obama's agenda?

During their first debate in North Conway on Monday, Shaheen repeated five times that Brown voted to continue oil subsidies for oil companies. Meanwhile, Brown repeated five times that Shaheen voted with Obama 99 percent of the time during 2013.

This campaign fight will continue for another three weeks, in Derry and everywhere else.

(James Pindell covers politics for WMUR. You can see his breaking news and analysis at WMUR.com/politicalscoop and on WMUR-TV.)

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Sanborn — Some residential homes under $200,000

There were 96 homes sold in September 2014 in the twelve communities covered by this Lakes Region Real Estate Market Report. The average selling price came in at $316,720 and the median price point was $204,750. Last September there were 104 sales at an average of $406,327 with a median price point of $201,000.

For the first nine months of 2014 there have been 726 residential home sales at an average of $315,976 compared to 782 sales at an average of $300,284 for the same period in 2013. We are headed in the wrong direction.

So what can you buy for a home just under the $200,000 mark? There sure is a lot out there to look at, but here are a few selections just to get you started.

Over at 69 Chapin Terrace in Laconia you'll find a cute 1,502 square foot ranch built in 1985 with three bedrooms, one and three quarter baths, a large living room with a fireplace, a well appointed eat in kitchen, plus a family room and office in the basement. The home sits on a level .4 acre lot with a great back yard, a large deck, a two car garage, and Opechee water views across the street. The home is assessed at $212,200 and is being offered at $198,000. This home is located on a quiet dead end street in a great neighborhood so it may well be worth a look.

There's a 1955 vintage ranch at 98 Kimball Road in Gilford which has had many updates in the past few years including vinyl siding, new roof, furnace, hot water heater, and replacement windows. This home has 1,412 square feet of living space with three bedrooms, one bath, a living room with hardwood floors, fireplace, and lots of built in shelving. The kitchen has plenty of storage, new appliances, and tile floors. This home sits on a one acre lot with mature perennial gardens. It is priced at $198,000. I remember a time when you could not find a home in Gilford for under $200K!

At 45 Brigham Street in Laconia you'll find a 1,730 square foot raised ranch that was built in 2006 on a .85 acre lot at the very end of the street. This like new home has three bedrooms, two full baths, and a lower level man cave space where you can watch the Patriots on Sunday. The main level has an open concept living and an eat-in kitchen area that sports stainless steel appliances and nice cabinetry. There's a one car garage under and workshop area. The low maintenance vinyl exterior coupled with a small yard will ensure you spend more time in the man cave or out hunting and foraging. This home is priced at $199,000​.​
Finally, up at 229 Chestnut Drive in Gilford, there is an immaculate, 1,820 square foot, three bedroom, two bath cape with awesome Winnipesaukee views. This open concept home was built in 2004 and has beautiful exotic hardwood floors, a kitchen with maple cabinetry, a large living room with cathedral ceilings, fireplace, and a wall of windows and sliders that lead out to the large deck. Upstairs is a loft/office area and a huge unfinished bonus room. The basement provides ample storage or future expansion possibilities. There's really no lawn to mow so this low maintenance yard will free up your time so you can enjoy the beach. This home is priced well below the tax assessed value of $229,620 at $199,900.

Please feel free to visit www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. Data was compiled using the Northern New England Real Estate MLS System as of ​10/14/14. Roy Sanborn is a realtor at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached ​at 603-267-7012.​

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Sanborn — Winni waterfront sales report September 2014

There were fourteen waterfront homes on Lake Winnipesaukee that changed hands in September 2014. The average sales price was $1,209,457 and the median price point came in at $1,175,000. Nine of those sales exceeded the million dollar mark. This was a bit lower than last September when there were eighteen sales at an average price of $1,114,292 with a median price point of $652,000. For the year thus far there have been 94 waterfront sales on the big lake at an average of $1,094,088 compared to an identical 94 sales last year at an average of $921,565.

​​The entry level sale last month was at 120 Hillcroft Road in Laconia. This 1985 vintage, 1,784 square foot, four bedroom, two bath gambrel style home has an open concept kitchen and living area, brick wood burning fireplace, front to back master bedroom with balcony on the second floor, and a huge wrap around deck. The home sits on a .76 acre lot with 275 feet of frontage, a sandy beach, and u- shaped dock. The home was first listed in June of 2013 for $445,000, relisted in May of 2014 for $389,000, reduced to $339,900, and sold for $311,500. Susan Ho​dgkins of Keller Williams Metropolitan represented the property. Total time on market was 257 days. It is currently assessed at $348,100.

The median price point sale is represented by the property at 192 Woodlands Road in Alton. This contemporary home was built in 1952 and has 3,546 square feet of living space, three bedrooms, and three and a half baths. This home faces the "broads" so it was designed with lots if windows to bring in the spectacular views. The home has two family rooms, a sun​ ​room, hot tub room, gleaming hardwood floors, massive stone fireplace, attached three car and detached two car garages, and a whole house generator. The home sits on a 2.42 acre lot with extensive stonework, patios, walkways, and 200 feet of frontage. This home was listed by Ellen Mulligan of Coldwell Baker RB/Center Harbor for $1.575 million. The price was reduced several times with a major $200,000 reduction in August down to $1.195 million. That sparked four offers with the winner coming in at $1.2 million. Total time on market was 707 days. It is assessed for $1.062 million.

The highest dollar sale honors go to the home at 55 Banfield Road in Tuftonboro. This lovingly restored turn of the century (the last one, not this one!), 3,600 square foot lake cottage exudes lake front charm. The home has five bedrooms, two and a half baths, luxurious kitchen and baths, lots of natural woodwork, wainscoting, multiple fireplaces, and a wonderful covered porch. A lake home is supposed to look like this one. The home sits on a .95 acre lot with Southwesterly views, mature landscaping, 155 feet of frontage, and an over the water boat house. This home was listed by Geordy Hutchinson of Yankee Pedlars Real Estate in Wolfeboro and sold after just eleven days for $100,000 less than the $2.9 million asking price. It is assessed at $1.3 million. This is a nice, nice property!
The only sale on Winnisquam in September 2014 was at 4 Leighton Ave North in Laconia where a 1930s vintage, 1,684 square foot, two bedroom, one and a half bath year round home found a buyer after just 50 days on the market. This home was move in ready and sits on a level .36 lot with sunset views, 60 feet of frontage, a dock, and one car garage. This home was listed at $469,500 and has an assessed value of $372,600. It sold for $445,000 and was represented by Kay Huston of Coldwell Banker RB Center Harbor.

Please feel free to visit www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. Data was compiled using the Northern New England Real Estate MLS System as of​ ​10/8/14. Roy Sanborn is a realtor at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-677-7012​.​

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