Rep Steve Vaillancourt


Republicans Favored In 17 of 24 State Senate Races

As promised last week, I've typed up my analysis of all 24 State Senate districts.  I offer it here in chart form but would recommendation reading the explanation first.  Any questions, I'll try to answer them here later.  This is simply a numerical look.  In a future post (fairly soon I hope, maybe even when I'm on the road this weekend), I'll rank the 24 districts taking other factors (such as actual candidates) into account

New Hampshire State Senate 2012 Analysis--Explanation

For the sake of consistency in all work, Republicans are always listed first, Democrats second.   Also for consistency, + (plus) in the advantage column indicates that much of an advantage for Republicans; - (minus) indicates that advantage for Democrats.  For example, the 4.88 change in district one means the district overall has become 4.88 percent more Democratic in the past ten years, going from a 2.58 Republican advantage in 2002 to a 2.30 Democratic advantage now. 

District 1 is the closest we can find to a pure toss-up; it’s one of the few districts in the state where the party advantage has actually flipped, from slightly Republican to slightly Democratic.  As long as Gallus remained, Republicans could handle the numerical loss, but his retirement but this seat in jeopardy.  It would have been difficult, however, to make the district more Republican as much of the North Country is becoming more Democratic. 

District 5 (Hanover/Lebanon/Claremont) features a huge advantage for Democrats (-26.86 translates as a 28.86 % advantage for Democrats).  District 21 (Durham/Portsmouth) is even more so at -29.54.  Three other districts are so strongly Democrat that “no Republican need apply.”  That’s called stacking (or legal “gerrymandering”, a true work of art by Senate redistricters)! 

Districts 6 and 23 have flipped even more dramatically than District 1, from leaning Democratic to nearly safe Republican.  Ain’t redistricting grand!   

District 8 is very close, but as long as O’Dell chooses to run, it would have to be ranked Safe R. 

District 9 (Bedford) exemplifies a pattern that is evident in many places; districts which have become less Republican (a negative number in the change column), but are still Republican to a degree which would normally allow a Republican to win the district, albeit by fewer votes (Does it really matter if you win by 2000 or 4000 votes?).

Districts 14 and 19 and 22 (Londonderry/Hudson; Derry; and Salem) have not changed at all geographically yet they have all become even more solidly Republican, a sure indication that voting trends at the top of the ticket in this section of the state are trending even more Republican (just like Grafton and the North Country are trending Democratic).

District 24 experiences the greatest flip of all, from safe Democratic (2010 was the exception) to marginally Republican.

17 To 7—As you will note, Republicans are favored (at least to some degree) in 17 of the 24 districts; Democrats are favored in only seven districts but are favored by stupendous margins in five of the seven!  Ain’t redistricting grand!  Ten years ago, Democrats were favored in 10 districts (including the old District 7).

NR--Since Districts 4 and 7 have changed so totally in redistricting, no comparisons to ten years ago are valid.  Thus, the not relevant (NR) notation.

District/Incumbent     R%     D%     Advan 2012   Advan 2002   Change

1/Gallus                        48.85   51.15    -2.30                +2.58               -4.88

2/Foreseter                   51.80   48.20   +2.60               +8.58               -4.98

3/Bradley                     54.21   45.79     +8.42               +10.52             -2.19

4/NR                            43.08   56.92      -13.84              NR                   NR

5/Houde                       36.57   63.43     -26.86              -8.56                -18.30

6/Groen                        53.10   46.90     +6.20               -6.32                +12.52

7/NR                            51.53   48.47       +3.06               NR                   NR

8/O’Dell                       51.18   48.82       +2.36               -5.94                +8.30

9/White                        53.36   46.37      +7.26               +15.84             -8.58

10/Kelly                       37.82   62.18       -24.36              -17.30              -7.05

11/Bragdon                  53.67   46.33      +7.34               +3.80               +3.54

12/Luther                     52.87   47.13      +5.74               +0.24               +5.98

13/Lambert                  45.62   54.38      -8.76                -8.44                -0.32

14/Carson                    57.35   42.64      +14.70             +10.02             +4.68

15/Larsen                     36.61   63.39      -26.78              -19.74              -7.04

16/Boutin                     52.98   47.02       +5.96               +7.82               -1.86

17/Barnes                     52.14   47.86      +4.28               +7.40               -3.12

18/DeBlois                   53.70   46.30        +7.40               +3.00               +4.40

19/Rausch                    58.72   41.28       +17.44             +11.02             +6.42

20/D’Allesendro           52.33   47.67        +4.66               +4.82               -0.16

21/Merrill                     35.23   64.77        -29.54              -19.20              -10.34

22/Morse                     58.59   41.41        +17.18             +10.36             +6.82

23/Prescott                   53.56   46.44       +7.12               -2.48                +9.60

24/Stiles                       51.56   48.40        +3.12               -9.38                +12.50


Methodology of The Rating System

            If we want to discover how Democratic or Republican a particular city, town, or ward is—based on actual voting history and not based on the less reliable voter registration tables—the fist thing we need to do is establish a baseline.

            In 2002, I discovered that if we used the five closest statewide races for the previous decade, the parties virtually split the votes cast in those five races statewide.   (I always disregard third or fourth party candidates).  The races were 1992 for President and U.S. Senate, 1996 for U.S. Senate, and 2000 for President and U.S. Senate.  Statewide in those five races, Republicans received 1,214,890 votes while Democrats received 1,212,805 votes.  That amounts to 50.04 percent for Republicans; 49.96 percent for Democrats, close enough to 50-50 so that we can then add up totals in any town, city, or ward and get a number to judge just how much any advantage one of the parties would enjoy in that location, all other factors being equal.

            The exercise worked so well that I decided to do it again for the last ten years.  Data from one close race is hardly enough, so I sought out five of them and discovered that we had a large share of blowouts the past then years.  So the best I could come up with was four statewide races (for U.S. Senate in 2002; for President and Governor in 2004; and for Governor in 2010).  For the fifth, I did something I would prefer not to do, but it works fairly well…I used the two Congressional races of 2010.

            If you add the numbers for Democratic candidates in those five races, you get 1,329,197; for Republicans, it’s 1,319,928.  That breaks down to 50.17 for Democrats to 49.83 for Republicans, not quite as close to 50-50 as we were in 2002, but it’s good enough for this exercise.

             Here are the numbers:

2002 Senate—John Sununu 227,224, Jeanne Shaheen 207,478.

2004 President—John Kerry 340,511, George W. Bush 331,237

2004 Governor—John Lynch 341,299, Craig Benson 325,981

2010 Governor—John Lynch 240,346, John Stephen 205,616

2010 1st CD—Frank Guinta 121,655, Carol Shea Porter 95,503

2010 2nd CD—Charlie Bass 108,610, Kuster 105,616

Using these same races, we can get a total for any town, ward, or city, and then we can add these numbers to get a number for any race we desire (it’s limited only by the amount of time you want to spend running the numbers; or creating a computer program if you're into that) from all State Rep districts (including floats) to the 24 State Senate districts to Executive Council districts…to anything.

Not only that, we can compare the number from 2002 to 2012, and if we really want to create more work, we can look for example at how an unchanged Senate district would stack up to how the ones approved for this year look.   Remember I did that last week to show how Republican Senate mappers had made District 17 less Republican (Jack Barnes didn’t seem to need the help; now, he’s decided not to run, the decision could come back to haunt Republicans) in order to make District 23 more Republican (to help Russ Prescott).  Be careful what you wish for.

For the purpose of consistency, Republican totals will always be listed first, Democrats second.  The higher above 50, the more Republican an area is; the lower the number, the more Democratic the area.  I arrive at an advantage by subtracting the two numbers.

Let’s run just one example here, and I’ll use my own Manchester Ward 8 which just happens to be the most Republican ward in the city (note that it’s the only ward which gave more votes to Stephen than to Lynch for Governor in 2010).


Ward 8 Totals For The Five Races

2002—U.S. Senate—Sununu 1804, Shaheen 1321

2004—President—Bush 2613, Kerry 1983

2004—Governor—Benson 2598, Lynch 1959

2010—Governor—Stephen 1603, Lynch 1576

2012 1st CD—Guinta 1768, Porter 1298

Five Combined Races—Republican 10,386, Democrat 8137

That’s 56.07 percent for Republicans, 43.93 percent for Democrats or a GOP advantage of 12.14 percent.  (The 2002 number for ward 8 was 54.15-45.85 for a GOP advantage of 8.30.  Thus, Ward 8—in these five races at least—has become quite a bit more Republican in the past ten years.  Republicans should be winning more down ballot seats here.  That's why it was especially sad for Republicans that they could only come up with two candidates to run for three state rep seats two years ago; it might not matter to get Republicans to run in highly Democratic ward 3, but it's a missed opportunity to fail to fill the slate in Ward 8).  This knowledge will obviously prove useful throughout the state. 

As a quick example, Rochester is just about 50-50, so races should be close there in a "normal" year.  The fact that Democrats won most seats there in 2006 and Republicans in 2010 shows that those were not "normal" years.  I suspect 2012 will be fairly "normal"; in other words, neutral at the top of the ticket.

A great thing about this system is that actual raw numbers are used.  Thus, when it comes to creating a Senate district tally (for District 18 for example),Ward 8 with a fairly high turnout would contribute much more than low turnout ward 5.  (The Ward 5 totals are 4649 for Republican candidates in the five races; 5380 for the Democratic candidates thus a ranking of 46.36 for the inner city ward).

Since so many numbers are involved, my assumption is that I’ve made a few mistakes, but I trust they are minor.  You can run the numbers for anything.  Let’s make Litchfield a test case.  Dig out the red books for the five elections.  Fill the numbers into the chart, and see what you come up with.  If it’s not 59.38 (a very strong Republican number indeed), either you or I have erred.  Ten years ago, Litchfield was 54.14, so it’s gotten much more Republican…again based on top of the ticket close races.


538 Affirms New Hampshire's Swing State Status, one of my favorite web sites, is looking at each of the 50 states individually in coming days, and yesterday Nate Silver focused on New Hampshire.  Whoops!  Actually staffer Micah Cohen wrote this particular piece.

There's not a great deal new here, but the data tends to verify what I've been talking about the past several weeks, especially how large portions of Rockingham County are becoming more Republican while the Connecticut River Valley is becoming more Democratic.  "Democrats call that area (Rockingham County)," Cohen quotes UNH pollster Andy Smith "the Bermuda Triangle, where Democratic candidates go to die."

Cohen writes (and you don't have to pay to get this), "For Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney--both of whom are mapping out routes to 270 electoral votes needed to take the Presidency--New Hampshire represents not just four votes, but four of the final votes needed to get to, or stay in, the White House.  On some maps, New Hampshire is the final push across the finish line."

Silver fails to note how Al Gore would have been President in 2001 had Ralph Nader not taken 19,000 or so votes away from him, enough to give New Hampshire’s four vital votes to George Bush in 2000.

538 does note how there are several scenarios in which the four votes could make the difference this year; I've related them here earlier.

Cohen also notes how New Hampshire has trended Democratic in recent years after every Republican Presidential candidate (except Goldwater in 1964) carried the state from 1948 to 1988.

Clinton won here by a point in 1992, by 10 in 1996, then Bush won by less than one in 2000, Kerry by one point in 2004, and Obama by ten points (including all ten counties) in 2008.

This year promises to be more like 2000 and 2004 than 2008.

At this point, gives Obama a 71 percent chance to win New Hampshire, slightly better than the 63 percent chance overall.

Silver has New Hampshire ranked eighth on its list of Tipping Point states, ahead of big states like Michigan and North Carolina, and third in its list of Return on Investment States.

No wonder you can't watch Channel 9 News for more than a few minutes without seeing commercials from both sides; it's that great return on investment?

On the Congressional front, Silver (this time it is in fact his article) gives Republicans a four to one chance of holding control (I'd make it 10 to 1).  He ranks control of the Senate as a virtual toss-up.  I still see Republicans easily winning control (North Dakota, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Montana all turn red easily with Virginia the real toss-up and an outside shot for Republicans in Florida and Ohio--only Maine is lost and then only to Independent King). is worth a look every few days of so, now more than ever.


Ovide And Jackie (NOT Maggie) Neck And Neck


Here's a Rasmussen poll that nearly snuck by undetected last week.  Details are only available to paid subscribers, but Real Clear Politics has posted results which show Republican Ovide Lamontagne ahead of Democrat Jackie Cilley by two points (41-39) in the race for governor.  Meanwhile, Ovide holds a six point leader (42-36) over Democrat (and friend of kathythes) Maggie Hassan.

Here's how Rasmussen rather cryptically words the free part on its web--"A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely New Hampshire votes finds the top two Republicans, attorney Ovide Lamontagne and former State Representative Kevin Smith--running neck and neck with former Democratic State Senator Jackie Cilley and only slightly ahead of another Democratic hopeful, ex-state Senator Maggie Hassan."

That rather mysterious language would lead us to believe that Kevin Smith does about the same as Ovide against the two Democrats, but it would certainly lead Democrats to believe what I've been saying all along, Jackie would be better than Maggie The Dog Torturer Hassan.

This Rasmussen poll was apparently taken as the same time as one which shows President Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney by five points (48-43) in New Hampshire.

Rasmussen reports that 20 to 25 percent like some other candidate for governor or are undecided in every case.  500 voters were surveyed on June 20 for this poll.

Anyone who subscribes to Rasmussen and has more details, please pass them along.


The Reading Room--Garfield's Doctors Killed Him


Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard (who previously wrote the excellent River of Doubt, an adventure story about how former President Teddy Roosevelt nearly died in the Amazon rain forest) is by no means the first book on the assassination of President James A. Garfield in 1881.  In fact, for the politics of the tale, especially the bad blood between Senator Roscoe Conkling's Stalwarts and the Half Breeds in New York State, Kenneth D. Ackerman's 2003 account "Dark Horse--The Surprise Election and Political Murder of President James A. Garfield" is a better source.

Millard focuses more on the medicine than the politics of the story, and indeed by the time you finish this new book (a quick read at 250 pages), you are sure to be convinced that it wasn't disgruntled and crazed patron seeker Charles Guiteau who killed the president, but rather his band of doctors who poked and prodded him for 79 days following the shooting in a Washington D.C. train station.

Even Alexander Graham Bell is involved as he works tirelessly to complete an invention which will locate the bullet in Garfield's body.  It might have worked, but the ego of the chief doctor D. Willard Bliss was so great that he limited the area of the body Bell was allowed to explore.

Meanwhile, Bliss and others literally poked and prodded Garfield to death in an attempt to locate a bullet which had come harmlessly to rest near the pancreas.  Joseph Lister had introduced the process of sterilization into European operating rooms, but the idea hadn't caught on in America at the time of the shooting, and the doctors literally killed Garfield by infecting him with germs.

That, along with insanity, was Guiteau's defense at his trial, but to no avail.  The jury deliberated less than an hour, and Guiteau was hanged 363 days after he shot Garfield, the poor boy from Ohio who overcame tremendous odds to advance to the highest office in the land.

Thus, Millard tells the story on parallel tracks, a rather good (if incomplete) biological sketch of Garfield and the tragic tell of the man who fired the bullet.  If anyone was genuinely insane, it was certainly Guiteau who insisted till the very end that he was acting on God's will when he shot the President (so much for those who claim to be acting on any god's will!).  He thought he'd be applauded as a hero, even as one of his own jailers tried to kill the "killer".

"After the initial shock of the President's shooting," Millard writes, "the prevailing feeling throughout the country was one of unfettered rage.  The fact that Guiteau had been captured and was in jail awaiting trial did little to satisfy most Americans' desire for immediate revenge."  Someone even suggested that Guiteau be forced to eat chunks of his own flesh which would be cut off him.


But the medical incompetence is the real tragedy of this story.

Here is Millard again.  "Science would soon exceed even Bell's expectations.  Had Garfield been shot just 15 years later, the bullet in his back would have been quickly found by x-ray images, and the would treated with antiseptic surgery.  He might have been back on his feet within weeks.  Had he able able to receive modern medical care, he likely would have spent no more than a few nights in the hospital.  Even had Garfield simply been left alone, he almost certainly would have survived.  Lodging as it was in the fatty tissue below and behind his pancreas; the bullet itself was no continuing danger to the president."

The say story is well told indeed.

As a bonus, we get to learn about the first Vermonter to become President, Chester A. Arthur who had spent the first months of Garfield's Presidency doing all he could to oppose the President.  Arthur was part of Conkling's spoils system.

For trivia lovers, there's one other juicy tidbit from the book.  We learn that one man present not only at the assassination of James Garfield but also of Abraham Lincoln 16 years earlier and of William McKinley a generation later.

Yes that, of course, would be Robert Todd Lincoln, Abe's son and Garfield's secretary of war, but there's no glory for him here.  He's the one who insisted that Dr. Bliss be called to attend the wounded President.  Bliss indeed, what a name for the man who tortured the President to his death.

Dark Horse: the Surprise Election and Political Murder of President James A. Garfield

"Capitol Access" And "Liberty Express" Together Again

My guest appearance with Denis Goddard on "Capitol Access" was a fast-paced half-hour, taped last Thursday in the Concord studios.  Denis tells me it's going out to 16 public access stations around the state, so you might watch for it.  I'll be using it as the first half hour of next week's "Liberty Express" as well.  I'm off to the great northlands, so I'm not taping a new show.  The second half hour will be a rerun, reading from the Declaration, Gettysburg Address, Reagan's "Tear Down This Wall" speech, and JFK's "Ich bin Ein Berliner speech".

This being the last week in June when important Supreme Court decisions are announced, it's fitting indeed that the show I just taped today features a lengthy reading from Dale Carpenter's book "Flagrant Conduct:  The Story of Lawrence v. Texas--How a Bedroom Arrest Decriminalized Gay Americans."

Justice Anthony Kennedy announced the majority decision (6-3) on June 28, 2003.  Could it be that Kennedy will be announcing another big decision (on Obamacare) this Thursday?

I also discuss the Hillsborough County budget, approved last Thursday, and the vile attempt (it failed) to add a totally unnecessary $150,000, AT PROPERTY TAXPAYER EXPENSE, to the Valley Street Jail.

As regular readers recall, I'm kind of into trivia, so here's a little game I put together as I was driving  from taping "Capitol Access" with Denis last week to the county budget meeting in Goffstown..

We spoke of many, many people.  In fact, nine of these ten names came up during the show.  Which did not?

Jackie Cilley

Bob Mead

Marjorie Smith

Kelly Ayotte

D.J. Bettencourt

John Babiarz

Stretch Kennedy

Mary Beth Walz

John Reagan

Dick Green.

We spoke of many topics as well.  In fact, nine of these ten topics were broached.  Which one was not?

Gay marriage

CACR 12 on education funding

Photo ID for voting bill

Right to work legislation

School vouchers bill


Cultural affairs

Parental consent bill

Budget cuts to UNH]

Gun bills.

The Liberty Express airs on Manchestertv23 Monday at 10 p.m., Thursday at 9 p.m., Sunday at 6 a.m. and again at noon, (and is always available on line at

For those who can't find "Capitol Access" or "Liberty Express", fear not. 

The answers are--how quickly we forget--DJ and CACR12.  There was no intent to avoid either; they just never surfaced.



John Lawrence (right) and Garner celebrate victory over the Texas Sodomy law, as announced from the bench by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy on June 28, 2003.