The State We’re In: Election 2022 wrap-up

Sign Up For Our FREE Daily eNews!


Click the link above to watch the full interview on NH PBS’s The State We’re In.

Story Produced by NH PBS-TV, a Member of

Copy of

Voters went to the polls Tuesday to select their choices for a variety of state and federal races in the midterm election. What happened, and what does it mean? The State We’re In host Melanie Plenda talks about the election’s results and what it means for Granite Staters. Joining the discuss is Anna Brown, the Director of Research and Analysis for Citizens Count and host of the podcast ‘$100 plus Mileage,’ Granite State News Collaborative Reporter and founder/editor of Granite Memo Stephen Porter, Assistant Editor of Manchester Ink Link Andrew Sylvia, and State House Reporter for the Keene Sentinel Rick Green.


TSWI 11 10 22 Still

This content has been edited for length and clarity. Watch the full interview on NH PBS’s The State We’re In.

Melanie Plenda: What surprised you or didn’t surprise you about the results so far? Let’s start with Rick.

Rick Green: I think turnout was the big surprise. The Secretary of State did predict 591,000, and it’s looking like that final turnout number will exceed 620,000 people voting. That was huge. I think that may have determined the direction of some of the races, particularly since what I’m hearing is that the Democrats did a really good ‘get out the vote’ effort. The abortion issue could have driven a lot of people to the polls that maybe would’ve sat out a midterm. In particular, the Senate race was a little bit of a surprise. Going into the election, there was a prediction from the UNH Survey Center of two points separating the two candidates. When all was said and done, it was about a nine-percentage-point win for Hasen. That was surprising. Maybe that spoke a little bit to the candidate quality question, which we’ll probably discuss a little bit more later.

Andrew Sylvia: I think the biggest surprise was the New Hampshire House outcome. I don’t think anyone thought it’d be this close other than maybe Democratic leader Matt Wilhelm. I heard some Republicans expecting Republicans to get 260, maybe 300 seats, but at last check I saw it as Republicans getting 203. It’s hard to predict New Hampshire House seats. They’re so small compared to other states and the lower houses of legislatures there. It was a crap shoot and there may be volatility in the future in terms of elections at that level. We’ll see what happens in the next term.

Steven Porter: I was not surprised when we saw results pretty quickly for the Governor’s race and the second Congressional district. I was fully expecting those to be the first two called, and they were, but I was very surprised when we very quickly and clearly found out who won the first Congressional district and the US Senate race. I had expected those to be much closer and take much longer to find out those results. I also was not surprised when it comes to the partisan makeup of the Executive council and the New Hampshire Senate, but I agree with Andrew about the New Hampshire House. The Republicans I talked to before election day really confidently believed that they were going to get at least 220, maybe 230 or more seats. We’re looking currently at 203 Republican seats, so that’s a very big surprise.

Anna Brown: We’ve talked about how it was a surprise how close the State House has turned out to be. In fact, I think it’ll probably come down to recounts ultimately, if Republicans can maintain that razor thin two or three seat majority. Couple of towns to tease out there: Meredith, Allenstown, Epping, and Goffstown all went to Trump in 2020 but had at least one State House representative flip from Republican to Democratic. Those towns in particular, you look at them and you think these look like Republican safe havens, and there was either a change of people moving into the state after 2020 or a change of sentiment among voters.

Melanie Plenda: Let’s look deeper at the US Senate race and the two congressional races; all three were pretty tumultuous. Are you surprised those races weren’t closer when we started talking about this?

Steven Porter: Yeah, absolutely. The second congressional district was not a surprise to me. The representative Custer prevailed in her bid for reelection against Republican challenger Robert Burns, but her margin – which landed at about 13 percentage points – was significantly larger than polls had suggested. Remember that Robert Burns is one of the GOP candidates whom Democrats reportedly boosted during the primaries. The Democrats got their preferred challenger and went on to beat him in that race in the first Congressional district going into election night. 

My baseline assumption was that Democratic incumbent representative Chris Pappas looked like the most vulnerable of the three congressional delegation members on the ballot. Republican challenger Carolyn Leavitt, who surprised some when she defeated Matt Mowers handily in the GOP primary, seemed to be gaining steam against Pappas ahead of the general election. One of the messages she hammered home in recent weeks was the idea that federal spending by Pappas and fellow Democrats contributed to our current inflationary pressures. Historically, when voters feel pinched economically, that’s often not a good sign for incumbents. The first congressional district is historically swingy; five times in the past 20 years, an incumbent has run for reelection in this district and lost. I was fully prepared for a scenario in which Pappas became the sixth incumbent to lose, but he ultimately won by about seven points. 

In the US Senate race, polling suggested that Democratic incumbent Maggie Hassen was favored to win, but vulnerable to a potential upset. This race seemed to have fallen off the national list of races most likely to determine partisan majority in the US Senate, but it was on that secondary list of potential upsets. I was surprised by how quickly and clearly we got results in those elections, and frankly, by how quickly and clearly we got concession speeches from both Caroline Leavitt and Don Bolduc. The margin was wide but the results came quickly and the challengers conceded right away.

Melanie Plenda: The same question to you Anna, and following up on that, why do we think we were seeing some of those results with big margins? Do you think some of the polling may have had been a little bit off?

Anna Brown: The polling was absolutely off. It showed a trending movement of independent voters from undecided, maybe leaning towards the Democrats, moving towards Republicans at the federal level in all three races. I will say I was less surprised by that margin in the US Senate race because I already knew that we had a third-party candidate, libertarian Jeremy Kaufman, and his base was very anti-Bolduc. The libertarians in general were very anti-Bolduc for several reasons. They really criticized him on foreign policy issues related to Ukraine, for example, but they also had some personal run-ins with Don Bolduc at a WMR debate. It’s disputed exactly what happened. Don Bolduc originally said he was attacked, the libertarian commentator or reporter involved turned around and said that Bolduc was the one who touched him first. I was not so surprised that there was a larger margin there. Even if all the libertarians had voted for Don Bolduc, he still would not have won the election. Like Steven, I think it was most surprising to see what happened with Caroline Leavitt and Pappas since that has historically been more of a tossup district. I think that voters were either very motivated by the abortion issue or possibly very motivated to reject Trump since it’s true that Caroline Leavitt very strongly associated her campaign and her messaging with the former president.

Melanie Plenda: Andrew, how about you? What were your thoughts on that?

Andrew Sylvia: I wasn’t surprised by the second congressional district results, so we’ll just skip that. That was pretty much what we expected. In the first Congressional district and the Senate, I was surprised at how comparable both the percentages were. Both the Hasen and the Pappas campaigns tried to work together, and you saw that on election night when they had the same location at the Puritan restaurant in Manchester. It’s almost like they were two candidates or two seats with one campaign in a lot of ways. I think it was surprising that it wasn’t as close as it was. 53% of the population is still close. If  you look at the polls, they were off, but they weren’t as off as some people are saying.

In terms of the first Congressional district, I’m wondering what the repercussions will be, given how close it’ll be in Washington, given the fact that the Republicans tried to gerrymander the first Congressional district. I know that’s a politically charged word, but I think that fits the definition of what tried to happen there. Democrats have tried to gerrymandering in other states like Illinois and New York, so it’s not that either party doesn’t do it. There was some gerrymandering lower on the ballot, but not at that congressional district, so we’ll see what happens. 

Melanie Plenda: Rick, how about you? What do you think?

Rick Green: This idea of candidate quality has been talked about this whole election cycle, and with the Democrats supporting some candidates on the other side they thought would be vulnerable in the general. That strategy, although risky, seemed to work out here in New Hampshire. In particular, Bolduc’s performance on the campaign trail left some supporters scratching their heads. At one point he said the last presidential election was stolen. Then right after the primary, he said he reversed that. Then later in the general, he reversed his reversal. Famously he talked about a mythical school that turns out to be an internet hoax. It turns out where kids were supposedly identifying as cats and being given litter boxes, which is just unfounded, ridiculous. He espoused that at one point, so there might have been a lot of cross ticket voting or split ticket voting, and he just didn’t come off as well in the general as he did in the primary.

Melanie Plenda: Here’s another question for the panel. How do New Hampshire’s results play into the national picture?

Anna Brown: Hasan’s race was sometimes marked as a possible flip. We also saw the Pappas race sometimes marked as a possible flip, and neither of those materialized. New Hampshire definitely helped Democrats hold the line against Republicans during a midterm election when it was expected that Republicans were going to really advance and keep their seats. I think that when we’re looking at that, that’s a victory for Democrats across the United States. They’re going to look at that and give it two thumbs up. I will also throw out there, it’s regardless of what happens, we have such narrow margins in the US House and the US Senate. Even if both went Republican, you still have a Democratic president. I think there’s going to be a lot of gridlock still in the next two years.

Rick Green: We’re so polarized right now in this country, but in governor Chris Sununu, we have somebody where we see people are willing to split their ticket to vote for him. He’s a little bit more on the moderate side compared to some governors. He’s been all over national tv. I’m wondering if he will have more of a national presence to come perhaps in presidential elections. He seems so comfortable on camera talking to people and that appeal may break a little of the real partisan gridlock.

Andrew Sylvia: I wanted to build on what Rick said. I think one of the interesting questions we’re going to see over the next years is whether or not Governor Sununu will get a presidential exploratory committee. A lot of pundits are saying that this midterm hurt former President Trump. Obviously, he’s been called dead too many times to count politically, so you don’t want to count him out, but Rick DeSantis did have a really good day in Florida, so there’s a lot of back-and-forth in the GOP between whether it’s time to move on to Rick DeSantis. Governor Sununu might be able to say he is the Donald Trump without the Donald Trump, and the Rick DeSantis without the Rick DeSantis. It’ll be interesting to see if he looks into it. Since we have such a late primary, he could campaign in early states and call it off and still run for governor again. I’m not sure what impact that would have on him running for governor again if he wanted to. It’d be interesting to see who the Democrats put up in the next term. I don’t think another elected official will do well given the last decade or so. Between Governor Sununu here who had limited experience – he was on the executive council at one point – and John Lynch, I think that might be the best route for the Democrats. Maybe someone like Carrie Herberg with Sunny Field Yogurt, or someone else. That’d be interesting to see who they have.

Steven Porter: I totally agree. I think there has been a fair bit of soul-searching about what this means for the country and for the Republican party, especially as it relates to former President Donald Trump, his preferred candidates, and his brand of politics. This week after the election, we saw Fox, Wall Street Journal, and New York Post turn and criticize Trump and called him out for this being really his loss. I would expect as we look ahead to the 2024 presidential primary that these results will offer some very important context.

GSNC 2 ColorThese articles are being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information visit