New Hampshire (4)
New Hampshire was the only state in the Northeast in which Bush was considered competitive with Kerry.
In 2000, Bush beat Al Gore in the state by one percentage point, or about 7,000 votes. But the Democratic Party has remade itself in New Hampshire over the past decade as the Republican Party there imploded.
In the end, Kerry had been favored to win narrowly, helped by hundreds of other Massachusetts Democrats who crossed the border to canvass for him. Kerry squeaked by with 50 percent of the vote, passing Bush by 9,171 ballots out of 675,314 cast.
The region's hottest state race also was in New Hampshire, where former furniture company executive John Lynch challenged first-term Gov. Craig Benson. Lynch, in his first race for public office, won with 51 percent of the vote. His victory marked an unusual upset in a state that since 1926 had supported first-term governors who sought reelection.
Lynch had vowed to veto a sales or income tax, and Benson argued that Lynch would raise taxes if elected. Lynch also had slammed Benson for ethical problems in his administration. Benson, a computer company executive who had vowed to run the state on a more businesslike basis, had also feuded with his Republican legislature.
Benson said yesterday that he will probably retire from politics when his term ends in January. He told the Associated Press he is proudest of his education initiatives, including distributing 700 laptop computers to schoolchildren and helping families who got caught up in the state's social service delivery system. His greatest frustration as governor, he said, was having those programs criticized for not doing enough.
In the Senate campaign, incumbent Judd Gregg (R) routed the token opposition mounted by 94-year-old Doris "Granny D" Haddock (D), taking 66 percent of the vote. Haddock, a veteran political activist who was a last-minute fill-in for her party, had promised to serve only one term.
Kerry coasted to victory with 54 percent of the vote. So did longtime Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, who easily won his fifth term, a record for the state, beating back Jack Orchulli (R), a former fashion company executive. Dodd received 66 percent of the vote.
Two moderate Republicans turned back tough challenges for their seats in Congress.
Rep. Christopher Shays, a co-sponsor of campaign finance legislation with the reputation of being a maverick within his party, fended off a strong effort by Diane Farrell, a former preschool teacher who later became an advertising executive and then selectwoman of the town of Westport. Shays, a member of Congress since 1987, took 52 percent of the vote.
Similarly, two-term Rep. Rob Simmons, a former staff director for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, faced a challenge from Democrat Jim Sullivan, a former Norwich councilman who pushed the issue of "the mess in Iraq." One anti-Simmons advertisement merged the congressman's image into President Bush's. Simmons got 54 percent of the vote.
Both Shays and Simmons were depicted in ads and mailings as loyal Republicans who consistently follow party leaders. However, the two have broken ranks with party leaders on a number of issues, including the environment, abortion, campaign finance reform and restructuring of the intelligence community.
At a victory celebration, Shays told a roaring crowd that he has seen eight years of anger and hate, first against President Bill Clinton then against President Bush. According to the Associated Press, he promised: "I'm going to work overtime to help this country to come to grips with the fact it can't be about anger. It has to be about what is best for our country."
Kerry took Maine handily, drawing 53 percent of the vote and avoiding a split in the state's four electoral votes.