Every dark cloud has a silver lining, and every Election Night drubbing leaves someone with a smile. Below is our winners and losers list from New Hampshire Journal. Please feel free to send your nominees to [email protected], or post them on Twitter to @NewHampJournal.
2022 MIDTERM WINNERS
New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley: After his party’s less-than-impressive performances (losing the legislature while a Democrat wins the presidential race by eight points) the past two cycles, Buckley burnishes his reputation by snatching victory out of the jaws of all-but-certain defeat. He needs the good news to help cushion the blow of his party possibly dumping the Granite State’s First-in-the-Nation presidential primary.
The #FITN Primary: As Gov. Chris Sununu said Tuesday night, “This is why New Hampshire has the First-in-the-Nation primary. We have earned it.” Then again, it’s not his party that is trying to take it away. The Democrats’ success on Tuesday, compared to the tight races in places like Nevada, could have DNC officials feeling better about keeping New Hampshire first.
Rep. Matt Wilhelm (D-Manchester): Wilhelm was the money man for New Hampshire House members and their campaign to re-take the majority. Whether they win the House or miss it by just a few seats, Tuesday’s win will give his candidacy for House Democratic Caucus Leader a big boost.
Gov. Chris Sununu: As in 2018, he soared even as the rest of the GOP ticket sank. And he did it with a smile, running the most upbeat TV ads of any candidate in this election cycle. 2024, anyone?
WMUR’s Billing Department: Already reportedly one of the most profitable local TV stations in America, WMUR’s fiscal fortunes look even brighter thanks to the success of Sen. Maggie Hassan and Rep. Chris Pappas. Both chose to avoid town halls, public appearances, and interactions with the media, relying instead on millions of ad dollars to deliver a victory while they stayed in their political bunkers. It worked. The ‘Hidin’ Hassan” issue became part of the campaign, and she was called out on it even by her liberal allies at NHPR. But she stuck with it and won by 10 points while her opponent did 83 town halls. Expect fewer open forums and more paid ads from Granite State candidates in the future.
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.): Republicans didn’t have much to cheer Tuesday night, so the news of the DeSantis surge in the Sunshine State was a welcome reprieve. His stellar electoral performance was duly noted by GOP primary voters across the state.
2022 MIDTERM LOSERS
Pollsters: Another election, another major miss by the polling industry. Nationally, locally — doesn’t matter. Just like they missed Trump’s performance in 2016 and 2020, the GOP’s U.S. Senate success in 2014, etc., they missed again this year. The polling average for the U.S. Senate race was Hassan +1 percent. The final number will be closer to Hassan +10 percent. Why not just get a dart board?
The #FITN Primary: The Democrats’ success nationwide could actually be bad news for the Granite State’s place in the presidential primary calendar. Politico recently ran a story about how possible GOP victories in Nevada and Michigan could prevent those states from changing their laws in order to accommodate the new plan party officials have been sitting on for months. They’ve been sitting on it, according to rumors, because it strips New Hampshire of its exclusive #FITN status, and Democrats didn’t want that news to hit while Hassan was campaigning. But now the election is over, Republicans didn’t sweep into office in those other key states and so Tuesday’s victories might be easier for the DNC to dump its “November Surprise” on New Hampshire.
Curious Reporters: Sen. Maggie Hassan and the rest of the federal delegation haven’t held an open press event in more than three years. Instead, they limit access to media outlets they like. Hassan even attempted to have an NHJournal reporter thrown out of a press conference in the weeks before the election. One reason the media blockade works is that the entire delegation is Democratic, and they enforce their partisan blacklist together. Add a Republican to the delegation and the embargo is broken. Looks like at least two more years of “you weren’t supposed to come” for members of the independent press.
Pro-Life Republicans: Fairly or unfairly, pro-life Republicans will be blamed for the GOP’s near-death experience Tuesday night. Critics will say they pushed to get their late-term abortion ban into law, then did little to help turn out the vote for the party that passed it. They didn’t raise significant amounts of money to help out endangered candidates, either. And the issue, it is believed, hurt the GOP in New Hampshire up and down the ticket. If pro-lifers have any abortion-related legislation in mind for next year, the answer is already “no.”
Donald Trump: Republicans like to win. But they really hate to lose — particularly to Ray Buckley and Maggie Hassan. It’s one thing for New Hampshire to vote Democrat for president. Big deal. The state hasn’t gone Republican for a presidential candidate since George W. Bush in 2000. But it’s another thing for Democrats to win legislative races, or for the GOP to blow winnable congressional campaigns, because of Donald Trump. Ron DeSantis did himself a lot of good Tuesday night. Donald Trump did a lot of losing.