Midterm elections recap


Tucker McPartlin

Congressman Chris Pappas addresses supporters on election night Nov. 8, 2022. Pappas, the incumbent, beat Republican challenger Karoline Leavitt.

Voters across the country went to the polls Nov. 8 to participate in the Midterm Election.

Here in New Hampshire, voters were faced with choices in a U.S. Senate race, two congressional races, a gubernatorial race, and the 24 state senate races and 400 house races that make up the state legislature. 

On the federal level, many analysts believed that high inflation, low approval ratings for President Biden, and economic uncertainty would hand Republicans clear majorities in the US House and Senate. 

Democrats aimed to frame abortion and democracy as the number one issue throughout the campaign. 

Despite Democrats being initially favored in all federal races in New Hampshire, a slew of close polls in the final weeks before election day shifted the outlook heavily towards Republicans with Governor Chris Sununu even predicting that Republicans would sweep the federal races. 

 In the closely watched U.S. Senate race, incumbent senator and former governor Maggie Hassan faced off against retired general and New Hampshire native Don Bolduc. Millions of dollars in outside spending and a wide belief among pundits that it would be among the closest Senate races in the country, potentially deciding control of the chamber, meant that partisan operatives on both sides of the aisle anticipated a close election. 

As polls closed across the state, however, a different story emerged. Hassan was reelected by more than 9 points, outperforming President Biden’s margin two years ago and outperforming her own polling average by nearly 8 percent. 

In the 1st Congressional district, made up of the eastern part of the state and the more competitive of the two, Congressman and former executive councilor Chris Pappas faced 25-year-old Karoline Leavitt, a former communications staffer for President Trump and for Elise Stefanik, a senior Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Despite the fact that recent polls showed Leavitt leading in a tight race, Pappas won reelection by more than he did in 2020. 

In the 2nd Congressional district, made up of the western half of the state, veteran Democratic Congresswoman Annie Kuster beat conservative firebrand Bob Burns, who was well known for his conservative views on abortion and for his false belief that the 2020 election was stolen. 

In state level races, Republicans fared slightly better. 

Sununu sought a historic fourth term as governor and was reelected over state senator Tom Sherman by 15%.

While still reflecting a large margin of victory, results showed a double-digit swing towards Democrats from 2020 when Sununu won every county and carried the state by more than 30%.  

For the executive council–the five-member body in charge of approving appointments and state contracts worth more than $10,000–Republicans retained their 4-1 majority on a heavily gerrymandered map. 

In the State Senate, Republicans held a 14-10 majority. Partisan control of the decennial redistricting process had made many competitive districts more favorable to Republicans. Despite this, there was no net change in the seat counts. Republicans picked up a seat just north of Manchester while Democrats picked up a seat just north of Nashua.

In the 400-seat New Hampshire House, Republicans also appear to have held their majorities, although many seats are involved in recounts and other legal battles. 

What is clear, though, is that the Republican majority responsible for New Hampshire’s new abortion legislation, the strictest in New England, and the “divisive concepts” law aimed regulating the speech of teachers in public schools, faced consequences at the ballot box. 

Following the 2020 elections, State House Republicans held 213 seats to the Democrats 187. After the 2022 elections, Republicans will have lost at least 10 seats, although they are expected to hold the majority. 

New Hampshire political observers note that a majority this small will make governing difficult, and that day-to-day functioning of the House will come down to which members are absent. 

The first orders of business in the next legislative session will likely relate to the normally non-controversial biennial budget.