GOP strong in NH House races

April 22, 2010

It’s a given that Republicans will pick up a lot of Democratic held Congressional seats in districts won by John McCain this year. What will decide whether the GOP can take control of the House is its ability to win ones where Barack Obama was victorious as well. And it appears to have a very good chance to do so in both of New Hampshire’s districts.

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter has an upside down approval with 50% of voters disapproving of her job performance to just 41% giving her good marks. Hers is the more conservative of the state’s districts and she’s probably not helped by Obama’s negative 45/49 approval spread or the 52/42 opposition to the health care bill there.

In a hypothetical match up with Frank Guinta, Shea-Porter trails 46-45. It has little to do with Guinta- 52% of voters in the district don’t know enough about him to have an opinion and it’s far from inevitable that he will be the GOP nominee. But he nevertheless leads 45-42 among independents and takes 9% of Democrats to Shea-Porter’s 7% of Republicans. Shea-Porter has not really done any bipartisan bridge building so that puts her fate in the hands of independents and that will make it tough for her this fall with independents everywhere leaning toward the GOP. This one looks like a tossup.

If the best known candidates for Paul Hodes’ open seat win their party nominations Republicans will be heavily favored to take it back. Former Congressman Charlie Bass leads 2002 Democratic nominee Katrina Swett 47-32. Those numbers are pretty comparable to what happened when they faced off the first time and Bass won 57-41, not a huge surprise given that this is the first year where New Hampshire Republicans have much cause for optimism since that 2002 election.

Although she is the best known candidate for now because of her family name and prior run, Democrats may be better off nominating someone other than Swett. 29% of voters in the district have an unfavorable opinion of her to only 19% who view her positively. Bass isn’t amazingly popular either with 35% of voters holding a favorable opinion of him to 34% with a negative one. Still he leads Swett 49-26 with independents and gets 18% of the Democratic vote against her so if that’s how the race shapes up the GOP will be in a very strong position.

If Republicans can win these sorts of districts around the country in the fall, they will probably take back the majority. In New Hampshire anyway, they appear to be in a strong position to do so.

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