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Race Ratings: Breakdown of Granite State Races

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Rep. Frank Guinta, who won New Hampshire’s 1st district by a 12-point margin in 2010, is facing a rematch with former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter this cycle. For now, the race favors Guinta, but that could change.

Still, Shea-Porter has EMILY’s List behind her, and Democrats are quick to tie Guinta to the tea party — a label that has grown stale in the Northeast over the past cycle. Democrats say she has moderated her tone, has high name identification and fits the district on a local level.

Democrats seem bullish about Shea-Porter’s prospects, but the fact remains that she was never a particularly strong candidate. She was swept into and out of office during national waves.

For now, the fundamentals of the race favor Guinta. Several factors could change this, most notably if President Barack Obama is able to carry New Hampshire by a sizable margin.

2nd district
Incumbent: Charles Bass (R)
1st term (48 percent); previously served six terms
Rating: Tossup

Democrats have high hopes for Ann McLane Kuster — and not just for the fall. She is perceived as a “future rock star” in the party among progressives.

It was widely assumed among the party faithful that she was going to win what was then an open seat in 2010, but she came up just short because of the Republican winds that prevailed across the country. Democrats repeatedly said the strength of now-Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) — and the fact that the 2010 Senate race was a blowout — doomed Kuster. They call Bass’ victory a fluke.

Plans for 2012 were put in motion almost as soon as the 2010 results became final, with Kuster lining up for a rematch with Bass.

Republicans acknowledge that Bass has some weaknesses. He lobbied the state Legislature to come up with a new map that made his district more friendly to Republicans, but only small changes were made. GOP insiders say he is working hard to hold onto his seat and is taking nothing for granted. They are also pleased that he has been able to keep pace of late with Kuster’s powerhouse fundraising.

Democrats will try to tie Bass to the tea party as well. Republicans say he has unquestionable moderate credentials and high name identification and is capable of holding the district. Similar to the 1st district race, the presidential campaign will also come into play, but the early strength of Kuster’s campaign is undeniable.

As it stands, this race is a Tossup, but Kuster is running an energetic and hungry campaign, and it may become clear before the fall that the rating here should shift to Leans Democratic.

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