Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Race of the Day- New Hampshire U.S. Senate

New Hampshire U.S. Senate

70 Days Until Election Day

Status: Democrat Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Blue State (East)

Outlook: Safe Democrat

Can any race in the Granite State truly be "safe" for either party? It sounds like a risky proposition, but there is not any evidence to this point to suggest that whomever emerges from next month's primary to face Democrat Jeanne Shaheen will have a realistic shot or be on the radar of the party for assistance.

New Hampshire was once a solidly Republican bastion in New England, and while it is definitely not as far to the left as some of it's neighbors, it has been moving steadily towards Democrats and Shaheen as been a big part of that shift. As a long time political activist, who moved to her husband's state. Interestingly enough, while her Senate colleague Elizabeth Warren of neighboring Massachusetts claimed at one point to be part Native American, and is derisively referred to as "Pocahontas" by Donald Trump, Shaheen is actually a direct descendant of the historic figure.

In 1996, Shaheen became the first Democrat to become Governor in 16 years. She would be reelected  to two more two year terms before heading to academia. Shaheen attempted a political comeback in a run for the U.S. Senate in 2002 but lost a competitive race. After some more time away from the spotlight, she beat first term Republican John E. Sununu in a rematch in 2008 and was headed for the Senate. Not as visible on the national stage as other Senators, Shaheen typically got along with her colleagues. In 2014, a bad year nationally for Democrats, she suddenly found herself facing a recent colleague in Scott Brown, who had formally moved to New Hampshire after winning a Massachusetts special election in an upset and then losing to Warren in 2012. For a time, it looked like Brown could pull off an upset, but Shaheen's doggedly organized campaign made her one of the few vulnerable Senate survivors for Democrats by nearly four points.

Now, at the age of 73, Shaheen is seeking a third Senate term, after some talk that she might retire. Republicans would have liked popular Governor Chris Sununu to run, but he was not anxious to oppose the incumbent. Neither was former Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte who lost her seat the last time she had to share a ticket with Donald Trump. For a time, original Trump campaign manager, the controversial Corey Lewandowski was saying he would run, but that seemed to be mostly talk. The party seemed then to be settling on former State House Speaker Bill O'Brien, but he dropped out in favor of a different candidate.

While Shaheen is facing nominal primary opposition, two major Republicans are competing in a four way primary. The candidate that O'Brien lent his support to is attorney and businessman Corky Messner, who might be able to theoretically inject some personal money into this race. Messner seems to be running as a staunch conservative and ally of Trump. who has endorsed him. While Messner served in the Army, his main primary competitor is a retired Brigadier General of that service branch, who served 10 tours in Afghanistan. Don Bolduc has some conservative endorsements of his own and does not seem to be running as a moderate Republican. However, he has publicized the endorsement of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who is anathema to many Trumpists.

Primary polls show Messner has a slight lead, but with many undecideds. All things considered, it would be pretty impressive if Bolduc were to win this primary, against Trump's endorsement of an opponent. GOP leaders would probably prefer that outcome and likely view Bolduc, by virtue of his extensive military background, of being somewhat more formidable against Shaheen. The only polls on this race show the incumbent leading either challenger by a solid margin, and virtually the same against both.

It probably will not matter though as it will be a very short general election without much time for something unexpected to happen, especially in a year without much opportunity for retail campaigning. Shaheen is a known quantity and it will be a surprise if she does not win by double digits this time.

U.S. Senate races predicted thus far:

10 D (4 Safe, 1 Likely, 3 Lean, 2 Tossup) 
12 R (3 Safe, 4 Likely, 3 Lean, 2 Tossup)

Total with predictions thus far:

45 Democrats (35 holdovers, 4 Safe, 1 Likely, 3 Lean, 2 Tossup)
42 Republicans (30 holdovers, 3 Safe, 4 Likely, 3 Lean, 2 Tossup)


Post a Comment

<< Home