Republicans lost every federal race in New England, dashing hopes of flipping several seats
Republicans failed to win a single U.S. House seat in New England this year, despite hopes they could win several competitive races across the region.
The region’s final congressional race was decided Thursday in Maine, when election officials announced that incumbent Democrat Jared Golden defeated Republican Bruce Poliquin in the state’s 2nd Congressional District after tabulating votes in the state’s ranked-choice voting system.
Golden, a conservative Democrat, has represented Maine’s sprawling northern district, since 2019.
“I am deeply honored that the people of Maine’s 2nd District have chosen me to represent them in Washington for another two-year term,” Golden said.
Bruce Poliquin, a Republican running for Congress in northern Maine, lost his bid on Thursday. He is pictured above speaking at a forum in Lewiston, Maine in October. (Robert F. Bukaty/AP)
The outcome marked a bitter disappointment for Republicans, who hoped to ride a red wave to victory in many purple House districts in New England this fall, including in Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Many Republicans campaigned on concerns about rising inflation and the economy and thought they would benefit from President Biden’s high disapproval ratings in polls.
Nationally, Republicans flipped several House seats and are projected to win a narrow majority in the House.
But the only Republican in Congress from New England will remain Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a moderate who won another six-year term in 2020. Democrats control the other 32 House and Senate seats in the region and swept every contested federal race this month.
“Republicans misjudged voter intensity on the abortion issue,” according to Neil Levesque, executive director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics and Political Library at Saint Anselm College.
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine remains the only Republican member of Congress from New England. Above, she talks to a reporter this week at the Capitol in Washington. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
Levesque said the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, which ended federal protection of abortion rights, energized many Democrats and independent voters across the region, outweighing any advantage Republicans might have had over concerns about the economy.
Some New England Republicans were also hampered by the long shadow of former President Donald Trump, Levesque said. Trump lost every New England state in both 2016 and 2020 and has become deeply unpopular in many parts of the region.
Levesque said the former president’s unfounded claims of election fraud and his various social grievances “are not themes that resonate with New England voters.”
That appeared to be the case in New Hampshire, where Democratic Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas both prevailed easily over Trump-backed Republicans.
In the state’s U.S. Senate rate, incumbent Democrat Maggie Hassaneasily vanquished Don Bolduc, a conservative endorsed by Trump who initially embraced the former president’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen. Hassan’s victory came despite perceptions she was vulnerable, since she won in 2016 with just 1,017 votes. That win also helped Democrats retain control of the U.S. Senate, something that many analysts thought was in jeopardy before Election Day.
U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, speaking to media outside a polling place in Portsmouth, easily defeated Republican challenger Don Bulduc this month. Hassan was a key target of Republicans in their efforts to retake the U.S. Senate. (Elise Amendola/AP)
Trump-based candidates also struggled in other battle ground states across the country, including Pennsylvania, Arizona and Nevada. In an interview with CNN on Monday, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said the Republican party needs to move on from Trump, who this week launched his third presidential run.
Baker told CNN’s Jake Tapper that the election shows “voters want collaborative elected officials.”
“Voters, generally speaking, especially in battleground states, aren’t interested in extremism.” Baker said. “They just aren’t.”
That’s especially true in New England, according to Levesque.
“We’ve seen an evolution in New England where Republicans in federal office are an endangered species,” he said.
This article was originally published on WBUR.org.
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