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Updated Sept. 16, 2010
A social worker and anti-war activist who had never before held office, Shea-Porter scored one of the Democrats' biggest upsets in 2006 when she unseated two-term Republican Jeb Bradley by a 3 percentage-point margin. Heavily targeted by Republican strategists in her 2008 campaign, Shea-Porter nonetheless bettered her outcome in a rematch with Bradley, winning by 6 points.
Still, the incumbent faced a tough re-election fight, despite a national political climate that favored her party and a strong ongoing Democratic trend in New Hampshire. She even ran about a point behind presidential nominee Barack Obama, who turned the 1st District Democratic blue after it favored Republican George W. Bush by narrow margins in 2000 and 2004.
This year, Shea-Porter faces reelection with no wind at her back. National Republicans recruited Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta early in the cycle. His campaign stumbled early and he hasn't been an especially strong fundraiser, but then neither has Shea-Porter.
Guinta survived the Sept. 14 primary and has been elevated to the national GOP's 'Young Guns' status for top candidates, meaning he can expect significant support from the party going into the general election.
This district has only teetered toward blue in recent cycles, making it ripe to revert to the Republicans under the right circumstances. It's hard to imagine better circumstances than this year's strongly anti-Democratic atmosphere and Shea-Porter's less-than-steller fundraising and poll performance. The Democrat certainly can win this race, but it won't be easy.
District Profile from Politics in America
The 1st covers about one-fourth of New Hampshire's land, mainly in the southeast, yet contains most of its larger communities, including the state's most populous, Manchester. Many residents of southeastern towns, especially Dover, Hampton and Exeter, still commute to work in Massachusetts. North along the Maine border, Carroll County relies on tourism and farming.
Manchester has hosted technology and manufacturing companies, and has a large health care sector. A decade of diversification helped stabilize the city after years of slow growth, but several years of job losses affected all areas of the economy.
The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, across the state line in Kittery, Maine, employs many district residents and serves as an economic anchor in the eastern part of the district. Expansion of the shipyard's nuclear submarine repair facilities is expected to boost the local economy.
Despite strong GOP roots, the 1st elected a Democrat to the U.S. House twice in recent years. Throughout the district and the state, a plurality of voters identify as independents, and races can be competitive. Strafford County, which includes Dover and Durham (home to the University of New Hampshire), gives Democrats healthy margins at the polls. Republicans do well in midsize and smaller towns, but the GOP no longer dominates population centers such as Manchester.
The district overall backed Barack Obama with 53 percent of its vote in the 2008 presidential election.
Health care, computer manufacturing
Manchester, 109,565; Dover, 29,987
Robert Frost operated a farm in Derry that is now a state historic site.
|2010||general||Frank Guinta (R)||121,655||54%|
|Carol Shea-Porter (D)||95,503||42.4%|
|Philip Hodson (LIBERT)||7,966||3.5%|
|2008||general||Carol Shea-Porter (D)||176,435||51.7%|
|Jeb Bradley (R)||156,338||45.8%|
|Robert Kingsbury (LIBERT)||8,100||2.4%|
|2006||general||Carol Shea-Porter (D)||100,691||51.3%|
|Jeb Bradley (R)||95,527||48.6%|
|2004||general||Jeb Bradley (R)||204,836||63.3%|
|Justin Nadeau (D)||118,226||36.6%|
|2002||general||Jeb Bradley (R)||128,993||58.1%|
|Martha Clark (D)||85,426||38.5%|
|Dan Belforti (LIBERT)||7,387||3.3%|
|2008||Barack Obama: 53%||John McCain: 46%|
|2004||John Kerry: 48%||George W. Bush: 51%|
|2000||Al Gore: 46%||George W. Bush: 49%|