NH midterm election: Which way will this purple state swing?

New Hampshire is a purple state, with Republicans in charge at the state level, Democrats at the federal level and both sides looking to at least hold serve.

Democrats have held all four seats in Congress since 2017, and the state has voted for Democrats in the last five presidential elections. Republicans, meanwhile, control the governor’s seat and the Legislature.

The top race pits Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan, who is seeking a second term, against Republican Don Bolduc, who unsuccessfully ran for the state’s other Senate seat two years ago. National Republicans immediately pounced on the seat as a potential pickup after Hassan defeated Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte by barely 1,000 votes in 2016 to become only the second woman in U.S. history to serve as governor and U.S. senator.

But their enthusiasm waned after popular Gov. Chris Sununu declined to challenge Hassan, and Republicans nominated Bolduc, a retired Army general who has espoused conspiracy theories about vaccines and the 2020 presidential election.

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Sununu, the son of a former governor, is hoping to become the second governor in state history to win a fourth term. After winning reelection two years ago by more than 30 percentage points, he now faces Democrat Tom Sherman, a state senator and physician who argues Sununu has caved to GOP extremists in the Legislature on abortion and other topics.

New Hampshire’s two congressional races feature Democratic incumbents against Republicans from the Donald Trump wing of the GOP. In the 1st District, 25-year-old Karoline Leavitt will become the youngest woman in Congress if she denies Rep. Chris Pappas a third term. Before Pappas was elected, the seat flipped back and forth between the two parties five times in seven election cycles.

In the 2nd District, Rep. Annie Kuster is seeking a sixth term, running against Republican businessman Bob Burns.

The two districts shifted only slightly under the redistricting plan imposed by the state Supreme Court.

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The ballot includes two questions. One, which is required to be asked every 10 years, asks whether a constitutional convention should be held. Voters overwhelmingly rejected the idea in 2012. The other question concerns whether to remove a reference to county registers of probate from the Constitution, effectively eliminating the position.

Here’s a look at what to expect on election night:

Election Night

Polls close town-by-town at 7 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. ET. The AP will not call any races prior to 8 p.m.

How New Hampshire Votes

There are 238 voting districts in the state. Same-day, in-person voting is the norm. Absentee voting is permitted if the voter has an approved excuse. Absentee votes are counted after polls close and merged/reported with the same-day vote.

The New Hampshire midterm election is expected to be closer than originally thought, with Republicans closing in from behind.

The New Hampshire midterm election is expected to be closer than originally thought, with Republicans closing in from behind.

Decision Notes

The race call for governor is expected to be made fairly early in the evening. Three poll closing times contributes to the confidence factor in making those calls. In the past few cycles, however, vote counting in New Hampshire has been slow, especially in major centers such as Nashua and Manchester.

This is likely to occur Tuesday and the remaining top of the ticket calls may be delayed as a result. The GOP’s swing right for the senate and house races will be interesting to watch given the popularity of the state’s moderate governor. Sununu has distanced himself from Trump.

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The AP may call a statewide or U.S. House race in which the margin between the top two candidates is 0.5% or less, if we determine the lead is too large for a voluntary recount to change the outcome.

The AP will not call down-ballot races on election night if the margin between the top two candidates is less than 2% or if the leading candidate is within 2% of the 50% runoff threshold. The AP will revisit those races later in the week to confirm there aren’t enough outstanding votes left to count that could change the outcome.

The AP does not make projections and will only declare a winner when it’s determined there is no scenario that would allow the trailing candidates to close the gap.

Should a candidate declare victory or offer a concession before the AP calls a race, we will cover newsworthy developments in our reporting. In doing so, we will make clear that the AP has not declared a winner and explain why.

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What Else Should I Know?

Q: What Did We Learn From The Primary?

A: GOP primary voters swung right, selecting three federal candidates aligned with Trump.

Q: What’s Changed Since The Pandemic Election Of 2020?

A: In 2020, when absentee voting was allowed for anyone with concerns about COVID, about a quarter of the vote came in that way. Those rules are no longer in place.

Q: What Happens After Tuesday?

A: Race calling is expected to continue into Wednesday and there may be recounts triggered by U.S. House races.

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The state does not offer a mandatory recount. Candidates may request (and must pay for) a recount if there is a gap of 20% or less between two candidates. The request must be made by the Friday following the election.

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