Back at the first of the year, I was predicting Democratic gains in the 50-60 seat range for the New Hampshire House. Since they trailed 298-102 after the 2010 election, my numbers would have meant firm control for Republicans again next year (in the 240-160 range).
How things have changed since then. Every time I've spent some time trying to refine my numbers, I've had to add more seats for Democrats. On Memorial Day (in between rounds of mowing!), I sat down to actually map out a district by district approach, and I am now prepared to say that chances of Democrats taking control of the House--in other words of capturing at least 98 seats--must be rated 50/50.
In fact, I came out with a 200-200 split, and you'll just have to trust me that I never planned to get that result. I simply looked at 400 seats--most them in blocks--and gave my best guess to each one. In point of fact, I came out with Democrats at 201, but I also had Republicans at 200, so I had to go back and found out where the extra seat was. It was in western Hillsborough County; I had given it to Democrats, so I backed the numbers off to 200-200.
I am not going to present district by district analysis until we learn once and for all what the districts are and until the filing period is over (in mid-June), but for now, I've done a county by county analysis, and my level of confidence is very high that I'll be within five percent--in other words, that neither party will get beyond 220 of 400 seats.
I see major changes in the cities, Manchester and Nashua in particular and in Hillsborough and Strafford Counties.
This makes perfect sense because you can only have gains in the places where you're weak now.
For the first time in memory, Democrats lost control of all cities combined in 2010. Republicans went from a 20-114 deficit in 2008 to even Steven at 67-67 in 2010--a dramatic pick-up of 47 seats in cities alone! 17 seats were in Nashua alone and 14 in Manchester alone. I expect most of the 2010 gains for Republicans in cities will be lost this November. As for Strafford County, keep in mind that in 2006, only one Republican survived (yes, that would be Julie Brown) but in 2010, Republicans had a 19-18 edge in the county delegation. I expect most of those gains will be lost this fall.
It's also interesting to note that I'm rather conservative in this approach. I give Democrats ZERO seats in Hooksett, Bedford, Goffstown, Londonderry and huge swaths of Republican territory in Rockingham County from Raymond on through Chester, Epping, Danville, Kingston, etc. If Democrats see even a modicum of success in these areas, all bets are off, and it will mark the dawn of a permanent Democratic majority in the state. I'm not predicting that, but pundits should be on the lookout.
I am giving Democrats slight gains in Derry, Salem, Laconia, western Hillsborough County, Milford, and Amherst, but primarily the gains are limited to Manchester, Nashua, Strafford County as well as huge gains in Merrimack County.
I am not using any names here; first because we don't even know who is running; and secondly, note that most districts are multi-member voting blocs, so predicting a gain or loss by one party would not indicate which incumbent individual would lose (I most assuredly have definite ideas on this which I will share later, should those people choose to run). It's mostly based on past results, but I am also using the recent UNH poll which goes way beyond showing a generic Democrat winning by three points in the race for State Rep; it breaks the state up into six regions, and Republicans lead only in the area which borders Massachusetts. I posted the numbers earlier, but they bear repeating now:
North Country--31-39 Democratic edge;
Connecticut Valley--34-41 Democratic edge;
Mass border--44-30 Republican edge;
Seacoast--30-36 Democratic edge; and most significantly (at least to me)--
Manchester Area--27-48 Democratic edge. That's 21 points, and since this also includes Bedford and some extremely Republican towns, one can only conclude that Democrats lead by 30 or more points in the city itself. Irene Messier could be the only Manchester Republican left standing come Nov. 6.
Here's the county by county breakdown alphabetically. Note also that some counties lose or gain in redistricting. Since cities have lost six seats overall in redistricting, on would expect Republicans to benefit, but that won't happen this year precisely because Republicans did so well in those cities two years ago. In other words, Democrats already lost seats in areas which are losing with population changes, so Republicans stand to lose in 2012!! Strange but true.
Check my math to see if it adds up to 200-200.
Belknap from 18-0 Republican to 13-5 Republican.
Carroll from 14-0 Republican to 10-5 Republican (expect changes in the Conway area).
Cheshire from 10-14 Democrat to 5-18 Democrats.
Coos from 6-5 Republican to 5-5.
Grafton from 13-13 to 10-17 Democrats.
Hillsborough--the biggest change of all--from 101-21 Republicans to 62-60 Republicans.
Manchester from 21-14 Republicans to 6-25 Democrats (I’ll count that floterial with Litchfield in town totals). In 2008, Democrats led 7-28 and in 2006 6-29, so this is basically a reversion to norm. I repeat--it's entirely possible that Irene Messier may be the only Republican left standing in Manchester, thanks in no small part to the redistricting treachery of the Seven Republican Serpents and to Republicans in the House taking $15 million from Manchester schools (not Irene; not me, but we all could be swept away with the right propaganda campaign). Also, the Republican voucher bill will destroy the GOP in the city, especially if Republicans vote for this disaster (in the veto override) which will take another million from Manchester schools and lead to even more teacher layoffs. How suicidal can Manchester Republicans be? VERY!
Nashua--the biggest shift of all--from 22-6 Republicans (thanks to Kelly Ayotte's coattails) to 7-20 Democrats. In 2008, Democrats led 5-23, so this is basically a reversion to norm.
Other Hillsborough Towns--From an amazing 58-1 Republicans to a more normal 47-16 Republicans.
Merrimack from 27-17 Republicans to 16-28 Democrats (and it could be much worse according to a fellow astute Republican numbers cruncher; this could turn out to be a very conservative estimate).
Rockingham from 80-10 Republican to 68-22 Republican
Strafford from 19-18 Republican to 6-31 Democrats, another reversion to norm.
Sullivan from 9-4 Republican to 4-9 Democrats.
In brief, here are the gains I now see (the half Rep would be due to a change in number of Reps for that county due to redistricting):