It’s over. Gone are the acrimonious debates, boisterous crowds, vicious campaign attack ads, incessant robo calls and campaign paraphernalia cluttering street corners, highways, lawns and sidewalks. The voters have spoken in New England and across the nation.
Nationally, Republicans swept races for governor, the state legislatures and the U.S. Congress. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), Republicans now control the U.S. House of Representatives 240 to 186, where they added more than 60 seats, with nine races still to be resolved. In the U.S. Senate, Democrats managed to hang on by a margin of 53 to 46. The results of Alaska’s Senate race are still to be determined.
NCSL also reported that Republicans added seats in state legislatures across the U.S., with the largest gains in the East, especially in New England.
Republican gains in state legislatures by region
Nationwide, Republicans picked up five additional governorships. NCSL reports that 32 states will be under new governors, including Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont. Four of the six New England governors are Democrats. An Independent and a Republican round out the field. Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont will have new legislative leaders.
Nationwide, voting trends played a huge role in the outcome. Less than 21% of 18- to 29-year-olds showed up at the polls, compared with 51% in 2008, when President Barack Obama was elected.
Also, Independent voters switched their leanings in the 2010 elections, according to William A. Galston, senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution. In 2006, 57% of Independents voted for Democrats, while 39% voted for Republicans. In the 2010 election, 55% of Independents chose Republicans, while 39% voted for Democrats. The Pew Research Center reports that “conservatives” as a share of total Independents rose from 29% in 2006 to 36% in 2010.”
Gallup reported similar results, adding that moderates declined from 46% to 41% from 2006 to 2010. The Blue Dog Coalition or Blue Dog Democrats—fiscal conservatives with centrist positions—lost its clout in the 2010 midterm elections. Less than half were re-elected. New England’s lone Blue Dog, Congressman, U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud of Maine, was re-elected surviving a challenge by Republican Jason Levesque.
With current voting trends expected to continue into the next election cycle, the role of state legislatures in 2012, will be especially significant as states begin the process of redistricting. The drawing of state legislative districts and congressional districts must include the latest census figures. The party in power has everything to say about how these districts will be drawn.
In the upcoming redistricting, Massachusetts is expected to lose one congressional seat, reducing the number of seats to nine. No other New England state is expected to lose any congressional seats.
The loss of an additional congressional seat contributes to an already gloomy outlook for the region, which had claimed key leadership positions when Democrats were the party in power in Washington.
The outlook for state budgets
For the past two budget cycles, governors and legislators have had to continue to make deep budget cuts but federal stimulus funds provided some help in preserving jobs and services. For FY 2012, with stimulus funds just about dried up, state budget cuts promise to be severe. Medicaid will continue to be a budget-buster in all states. Reducing health care costs will be a priority, as the Health Care Act or Obama Care requires that states develop systems where consumers can purchase health care by 2014. Governors are expressing concern that the technology required to design such systems will be extremely costly and there will be no funds for such expenses.
NCSL executive director William Pound expects higher education to be on the chopping block, as well, despite rhetoric form Democrats and Republicans that educational attainment is a key factor in restoring the American economy and making the U.S. competitive in the global marketplace.
New England highlights
- Democrat Dan Malloy wins governor’s race in Connecticut defeating Republican Tom Foley
- Democrat Richard Blumenthal will replace outgoing U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, also a Democrat.
- Connecticut Democratic U.S. House members prevail in hard-fought contests.
- Maine elects Republican Paul LePage as governor
- Republicans take control of Maine state Legislature
- Massachusetts re-elects Gov. Deval Patrick and all members of the Bay State’s congressional delegation
- Republicans pick up 15 seats in Massachusetts state Legislature
- Ballot question to cut sales tax is rejected by Massachusetts voters
- New Hampshire Republicans take back control of state Legislature
- Republican Kelly Ayotte wins U.S. Senate race, while fellow Republicans Charlie Bass and Frank Guinta, former mayor of Manchester, prevail in congressional races
- New Hampshire’s Democratic Gov. John Lynch is re-elected to unprecedented fourth term
- Rhode Island elects Lincoln Chafee, its first Independent governor in 156 years
- Vermonters elect Democrat Peter Shumlin as governor
- U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, wins easily
- Vermont voters give 17-year-olds the right to vote.
State by state
Connecticut elects Democratic governor, keeps Democrats in DC, statehouse
In a striking similarity to Florida’s 2000 presidential election results, Connecticut’s Secretary of State Susan Byciewicz found herself in the hot seat, as Bridgeport’s votes became the focus of determining the outcome of the governor’s race. After the final tallies of Bridgeport’s votes were made available on Friday, Nov. 5, Byciewicz’s office declared Malloy the winner in the governor’s race.
Attorney General Blumenthal will fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Dodd. Blumenthal defeated Linda McMahon of World Wrestling Entertainment who poured $50 million of her own money into the race. In Connecticut’s congressional races, John Larson handily won his bid for re-election in the 1st district. Joe Courtney prevailed in the 2nd district, while Rosa DeLauro won in the 3rd district. Connecticut’s 4th and 5th districts saw the closest races where first term Congressman Jim Himes won a very close race against challenger state Sen. Dan Debicella in the 4th district. Chris Murphy beat back a strong challenge from state Sen. Sam Caligiuri in Connecticut’s 5th district.
Connecticut’s General Assembly remains under control of Democrats, though Republicans made inroads. The House is poised to re-elect Chris Donovan as speaker, while Don Williams has the support of his Democratic colleagues to continue as Senate president. Former House Majority Leader Denise Merrill won her bid for secretary of state.
Dannel Malloy (D) 4
Thomas Foley (R)
Tom Marsh (I)
Warren Mossler (I)
Richard Blumenthal (D) 4
Linda McMahon (R)
U. S. House of Representatives
John Larson (D) 4
Ann Brickley (R)
Joe Courtney (D) 4
Janet Peckinpaugh (R)
Rosa DeLauro (D) 4
Jerry Labriola (R)
James Himes (D) 4
Dan Debicella (R)
Christopher Murphy (D)4
Sam Caligiuri (R)
Maine goes Republican across the board
Republican Paul LePage, the mayor of Waterville, edged out Independent Elliot Cutler to become Maine’s first Republican governor since 1990. The Democrat, former Senate President Libby Mitchell, came in third.
In the state’s two congressional districts, Chellie Pingree , won re-election in the 1st district and Michaud in the 2nd district. Democrats did not fare as well in the state Legislature where Republicans now have 77-to-74 edge in the House and a 20-to-14 edge in the Senate, with one recount possible. This is the first time since the 1970s that Republicans have controlled both branches. Kevin Raye appears to have the support of his colleagues to lead the Senate. Four Republicans are vying for speaker of the House, including Stacey Fitts, Paul David, Patrick Flood and Robert Nutting. Emily Cain has expressed interest in the Minority Leader’s post. Cain chaired the Appropriations Committee. Seth Berry is also interested in this position. Republicans will caucus on Nov. 12 to elect their leaders; Democrats have tentatively scheduled a caucus for Nov. 18.
Maine voters approved a $5 million bond issue to increase access to dental care in Maine by a margin of 52% to 48%.
Paul LePage (R) 4
Elliot Cutler (I)
Libby Mitchell (D)
U.S. House of Representatives
Chellie Pingree (D) 4
Dean Scontras (R)
Michael Michaud (D) 4
Jason Levesque (R)
Massachusetts stays Democratic , small gains by GOP In Mass. House
Massachusetts voters re-elected Gov. Patrick who prevailed over Republican Charles Baker and Independent Tim Cahill. Massachusetts Democrats turned out in large numbers to mitigate the effects of the Scott Brown election and re-elected Democrats at every level. Patrick had 48% of the vote, Baker 42% and Cahill 8%.
All members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation running for re-election won handily. Retiring Congressman Bill Delahunt’s seat stayed in the Democratic column, going to District Attorney William Keating, who prevailed in a close election defeating Republican state Rep. Jeff Perry. Barney Frank who faced his toughest re-election to date, won 54% to Sean Bielat’s 43%.
Republicans did pick up 17 seats in the State House, the party’s largest gain in decades. There were no Republican gains in the Senate. The leadership in the House and Senate is not expected to change with Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Robert DeLeo.
Voters rejected Question 3 on the ballot, which would have reduced the sales tax from 6.25% to 3%. Voters also approved removing the sales tax on alcoholic beverages, which by state law is already subject to an excise tax. Revenue from the sales tax, however, had been allocated to support substance abuse and prevention programs.
Deval Patrick (D) 4
Charles Baker (R)
Tim Cahill (I)
Jill Stein (Green Party)
U.S. House of Representatives
John Olver (D) 4
Bill Gunn (R)
Michael Engel (I)
Richard Neal (D) 4
Tom Wesley (R)
Jim McGovern (D) 4
Marty Lamb (R)
Barney Frank (D) 4
Sean Bielat (R)
Niki Tsongas (D) 4
Jon Golnik (R),
Dale Brown (I)
Bob Clark (I)
John Tierney (D) 4
Bill Hudak (R)
Edward Markey (D) 4
Gerry Dembrowski (R)
Michael Capuano (D) 4
Stephen Lynch (D) 4
Vernon Harrison (R)
Phil Dunkelbarger (I)
William Keating (D) 4
Jeff Perry (R)
Maryanne Lewis (I)
Jim Sheets (I)
Joe VanNes (Bring Home the Troops)
New Hampshire sweeps in Republicans
New Hampshire followed a nationwide trend and elected Republicans to the U.S. Congress and the state legislature. Gov. Lynch, a Democrat, was elected to an unprecedented fourth two-year term.
Democratic Congressman Paul Hodes lost his bid for the U.S. Senate to state Attorney General Ayotte, who had the backing of New Hampshire Republicans as well as Sarah Palin and the Tea Party. Republican Guinta beat incumbent Carol Shea-Porter in New Hampshire’s 1st district, while former Congressman Bass edged out Democrat Ann Kuster in the 2nd district.
Republicans swept elections in the state legislature, which is the largest legislative body in the United States with 424 members. It now appears that Republicans will control the House by a margin of 300 to 100. In June 2010, Democrats outnumbered Republicans 224 to 176. The New Hampshire Senate also went to Republicans who now outnumber Democrats, 19 to 5. Democrats held a majority of 14 to 10 for the past four years.
John Lynch (D) 4
John Stephen (R)
Kelly Ayotte (R) 4
Paul Hodes (D)
U.S. House of Representatives
Frank Guinta (R) 4
Carol Shea Porter (D)
Charlie Bass (R) 4
Ann Kuster (D)
RI elects Independent for gov, keeps Democrats in Congress, statehouse
For the first time in more than 150 years, Rhode Island voters elected a governor who is not affiliated with either the Democratic or Republican party. Independent Chafee edged out Republican John Robitaille 36% to 34%. with Democrat Frank Caprio placing third at 23%. President Obama did not endorse Caprio in what many saw as showing deference to Chafee who supported Obama for president.
In Rhode Island’s congressional races, U.S. Rep. James Langevin won re-election in Rhode Island’s 2nd district, while Democratic Mayor of Providence, David Cicilline was elected in the 1st district, replacing Patrick Kennedy, who did not seek re-election.
Rhode Island’s General Assembly remains in the hands of Democrats. Current Speaker Gordon Fox is expected to keep his post, while Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed appears to be the choice of her colleagues for the next legislative session.
Lincoln Chafee (I) 4
John Robitaille (R)
Frank Caprio (D)
Ken Block (Moderate Party)
U.S. House of Representatives
David Cicilline (D) 4
John Loughlin (R)
Gregory Raposa (I)
James Langevin (D) 4
Mark Zaccaria (R)
Vermont goes decidedly Democrat
Democrat Peter Shumlin was elected governor in a close race with Lt. Governor Brian Dubie. Only 4,000 votes separated the two candidates. Vermont law states that if both candidates get less than 50% of the vote, the legislature decides who will be elected. Dubie has indicated he has no intention of pursuing a challenge.
At the congressional level, both U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy and U.S. Rep. Peter Welch won re-election.
Completing a decidedly Democratic victory at all level of government, the Vermont General Assembly remains in the hands of Democrats. The House gives Democrats a clear majority, 93 Democrats, 49 Republicans, five Progressives and three Independents. Republicans picked up a seat in the Senate, but Democrats control the chamber 22 to 8.
Vermont voters approved a ballot measure to give 17-year-olds the right to vote if they turn 18 by the time of the General Election.
Peter Shumlin (D) 4
Brian Dubie (R)
Patrick Leahy (D) 4
Len Britton (R)
U.S. House of Representatives
Peter Welch (D) 4
Paul Beaudry (R)
Carolyn Morwick is a consultant at NEBHE and former director of the Caucus of New England State Legislatures.