Meet the new boss: same as the old boss.
Granite State voters, in what may have been a record midterm turnout, opted to pretty much keep things as they’ve been for the past two years — though two rounds of recent gerrymandering by GOP lawmakers probably played no small part.
Remaining in place are Gov. Chris Sununu, who won handily, and four Republican Executive Councilors, who surely didn’t win as handily as partisan mapmakers had intended when they shoved as many conservative voters into each of their districts as possible.
The makeup of the Senate hasn’t changed, and we’d presume the course of its leadership won’t either.
As for the House, Democrats made substantial inroads, but it looks at this point as though the GOP will retain a slight majority, which likely means House leaders will remain in charge as well. True, they’ll have virtually no wiggle room, which could thwart some bolder conservative legislative proposals. But unless a group of GOP lawmakers decides to make a stand — or a power grab — things won’t change much in Concord.
The two most important developments in the state coming out of Tuesday’s voting were, really, non-developments, but are encouraging.
First, Granite State voters, on the whole, rejected the Big Lie Party candidates chosen by far-right Republican primary voters to represent the state in Congress. All three of the pro-Trump contingent — Don Bolduc in the Senate and Bob Burns and Karoline Leavitt in the House — had somewhat unexpectedly taken their primaries despite having little national party support. And they didn’t pick up that national advantage after the primaries, either.
Each lost decisively, which we’d like to say reflects Granite Staters’ wisdom in seeing the upside of the three Democratic incumbents — who’ve all done well in their roles — and in rejecting the insurrectionist, false narrative that Trump won the 2020 election despite a more than 7 million vote deficit and 60-plus court losses making the story clear to anyone not blinded by conspiracy tales. Still, that the three managed as many votes as they did is disconcerting, even if it was largely, as we suspect, due largely to those voting by party.
The other promising news out of Tuesday’s voting was how smoothly things went. For weeks, elections officials and others had worried that Election Day would be marred by confrontations at the polls, intentional efforts to slow vote counting or other issues. Or that post-election claims would emerge from the losers that because they lost, the system is rigged. But none of that has, thus far, come to pass. Outside of a couple of minor hiccups of the sort often seen in the logistical challenge that is Election Day, the voting was most notable for how well people abided by common courtesy and election rules.
Nationally, the “red wave” many had projected, based on the current economy — or, at least, consumer prices — didn’t materialize. We’re usure how much to attribute that to voters’ realizing that control of Congress has almost nothing to do with inflation vs. other pressing issues, such as reproductive rights and climate change. Maybe it had as much to do with the quality of the candidates, which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had predicted would cost his party control of the Senate.
As with the N.H. House, the eventual makeup of both the U.S. House and Senate is still an unknown. The Senate may wind up exactly where it started, with Democrats wielding the slimmest of margins only because Vice President Kamala Harris can cast a deciding vote, or McConnell may be back in charge. The House may flip to GOP control, or not. Court challenges, recounts and runoff elections will be needed to sort it all out.
What we do know is after months of worry, speculation and endless attack ads, we can all breathe a sigh of relief.
At least until the presidential wannabes start lining up.