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Top Races in 2016: New England

A voter leaves Town Hall in Wilton, N.H., on January 10, 2012 after voting in the state's primary. (Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images File Photo)

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of regional looks at the most competitive House and Senate races to watch in 2016.  

The New England region includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.  

New Hampshire Senate: After nine months of waiting, the matchup is finally set in one of the most competitive Senate races in the country. Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan is challenging Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte in a race that could decide which party controls the Senate in 2017. Ayotte didn’t have a lot of trouble winning in a strong Republican year in 2010, while Hassan has never faced a candidate a strong as Ayotte.  

Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call rating: Tilts Republican.  

Maine’s 2nd District: Republican Bruce Poliquin defeated then-state Sen. Emily Cain last cycle to capture the Democratic open seat, and he hasn’t let up. The congressman had $1.3 million in his campaign account on Sept. 30 in advance of a potentially competitive re-election race. President Barack Obama won the district in 2008 by 12 points and in 2012 by 9 points, so it’s a virtual must-win for Democrats to get back to the majority, but Poliquin won’t be easy to unseat. Cain is running again and had $368,000 in the bank on Sept. 30, but faces Bangor City Councilman Joe Baldacci, brother of the former governor and congressman, in the Democratic primary.  

Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rating: Tossup.  

New Hampshire’s 1st District: This seat switches party hands more often than I vacuum out the family minivan. 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 Democratic Rep. Carol Shea Porter last cycle. She’s running again and could face Guinta for the fourth consecutive election. Guinta is still dealing with negative headlines from past campaign finance issues, but Republicans’ chances of holding the seat might improve if Guinta loses in the primary.  

Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rating: Tossup.  

Related: Top Races in 2016: Mid-Atlantic States Top Races in 2016: The South Top Races in 2016: The Midwest Top Races in 2016: The Plains States Top Races in 2016: The West Top Races in 2016: The Southwest Top Races in 2016: Mountain Region Roll Call Race Ratings Map: Ratings for Every House and Senate Race in 2016 Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.