Top Races to Watch in 2016: New England

Guinta has been dogged by past campaign finance issues. (File Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Editor's note: This is the seventh in a series of regional looks at the most competitive House and Senate races to watch. The New England region includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.  

New Hampshire Senate:  Sen. Kelly Ayotte isn’t the most vulnerable Republican incumbent in the country, but Democrats might need to defeat her to ensure they gain five seats and a majority in the Senate for 2017. Democrats are waiting on Gov. Maggie Hassan to announce her plans, but that may not happen until the state’s budget process is complete. If Hassan passes on a Senate bid, former Rep. Carol Shea Porter and others will likely take a look. New Hampshire tends to swing with the national wave, so Ayotte can’t feel too confident yet. But she isn’t a polarizing figure and she will be a difficult incumbent to oust. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call rates the race as Leans Republican .  

Maine’s 2nd District:  Republican Bruce Poliquin defeated then-state Sen. Emily Cain last cycle to capture the Democratic open seat. Cain is running again, but she may not have the Democratic field to herself. The rural Maine district is a must-win for Democrats to get anywhere near a House majority again. President Barack Obama won the district in 2008 by 12 points and in 2012 by 9 points. But Poliquin isn’t planning on being a one-term wonder. He raised a hefty $700,000 in the first quarter of the year and is regarded as one of the hardest working new members. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call rates the race as a Pure Tossup .  

New Hampshire’s 1st District:  This seat changes party hands more often than some college boys change the sheets on their bed. The seat has switched party control in four of the past five elections. Republican Frank C. Guinta overcame his 2012 re-election loss by defeating the incumbent, Shea Porter, last cycle. She may run again or run statewide. Guinta was vulnerable by nature of the district, but he is also dealing with negative headlines from past campaign finance issues . The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call rates the race as a Tossup/Tilts Republican  contest, but Guinta appears to be working hard to make himself more vulnerable.  


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