Shaheen defeats Brown

Last modified: 11/5/2014 7:17:06 PM
Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen just slipped by Republican Scott Brown to win re-election Tuesday to the U.S. Senate, making the most expensive Senate race in New Hampshire history, and one of the Democratic party’s most decisive wins Tuesday, all the more dramatic.

Shaheen’s narrow win overall in New Hampshire was also reflected in the Monadnock region, where the margin was slim in most towns. However, results from several larger towns in this region showed that not all of the Granite State is a “purple mix” of Democrats and Republicans. Towns like Peterborough, Rindge and New Ipswich are just red or blue.

This doesn’t surprise N.H. Rep. Douglas Ley (D-Jaffrey). “Frankly, I was surprised it was as close as it was,” Ley said Wednesday about the Senate race.

Ley, who is also a professor of U.S. history at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, said unregulated campaign spending made this race closer than it should have been.

Across New Hampshire, Shaheen won by a margin of about 4 percent. By Wednesday afternoon, with 99 percent of precincts reporting, Shaheen, 67, had received 52 percent of the vote, while Brown, 55, got 48 percent.

The narrow margin came after the Associated Press called the election at 9 p.m. Tuesday in Shaheen’s favor. Shortly after that announcement, as more results were submitted from across the state, Brown’s distance from Shaheen shortened. The Concord Monitor reported supporters of Brown’s campaign held their breath until about midnight when he conceded to Shaheen.

Much of the Monadnock region mirrored statewide results.

Bill Bendix, an associate professor of political science at Keene State College, also wasn’t surprised by Shaheen’s victory or how close the race was. Polling data, he said, suggested it was going to be a close one. Bendix said electoral projection models predicted Shaheen would likely win, but Brown narrowed his distance from her in the closing days of the race.

Several factors contributed to Brown’s near win, Bendix said. While most challengers are unknown to the public, Brown was a “household name” in New Hampshire because he was a senator for Massachusetts. Brown received a significant amount of outside money, which Bendix said supported him competing against Shaheen’s political advertisements. Bendix also said the low approval ratings of President Obama and the Democratic Party dragged all Democratic candidates results down.

Bendix thought Shaheen’s “broad approval” by the public, both as governor and as a senator, contributed to her success. He compared to this Brown being portrayed as a transplant, because he moved to New Hampshire after serving as senator in Massachusetts.

Bendix also said the state is moving considerably more Democratic.

These trends appeared to play out in many towns in the Monadnock region. In Jaffrey, Shaheen received 56 percent of the vote, while Brown received 44 percent. Out of 1,061 votes cast in Jaffrey, 593 voted for Shaheen and 468 voted for Brown.

Wilton reported similar results. Shaheen captured 830 votes, 53 percent, while Brown got 741, or 47 percent.

But, in several of the larger towns in the region, one candidate or the other received much more overwhelming support.

In Peterborough, Shaheen won with 65 percent of the vote compared to Brown’s 35 percent. Shaheen had 1,878 voters, while Brown only had 995 supporters.

Just after she submitted her ballot, Molly Cowan of Peterborough said she voted for Shaheen and Rep. Annie Kuster because she would like to see more cooperation in Congress and less “gridlock.” She identified herself as a Democrat, and said she voted straight down the ticket. She also formed a Political Action Committee with Peterborough resident Sam Blair.

In Rindge, the results were quite the opposite. Not only did Brown win, he won handily, defeating Shaheen by a margin of 1264 to 825. And in New Ipswich, Brown defeated Shaheen, 1,279 votes to 571.

Although Temple more closely mirrored statewide results, with Shaheen winning slimly, Bob Gettman and his wife, Patty, spoke in support of Brown. Gettman said he voted for Brown because he was mostly concerned about the federal government’s infringement on rights.

Even though Shaheen’s victory was a major victory for Democrats on Tuesday, Republicans still seized control of the U.S. Senate. However, Bendix doesn’t see the Republican party controlling the House and the Senate as affecting what sort of legislation passes in the next two years.

Ley didn’t either. “It’s a system that is currently not functioning,” Ley said. “The next two years won’t be fixed. I don’t see Congress changing much in the next two years.”


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