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.
Under state law, the electoral votes can be divided, and there had been speculation before the election that Bush might pick up one vote by winning the sprawling, heavily rural 2nd Congressional District in northern Maine. Not only did Kerry win the district, but Rep. Michael Michaud, a freshman Democrat, also got nearly 58 percent of the vote, comfortably overcoming a challenge from Republican Brian Hamel, an economic development official.
In Maine's other congressional district, Rep. Tom Allen (D) won nearly 60 percent, easily defeating Charles Summers (R), who had criticized the incumbent for giving up a seat on the House Armed Services Committee. The naval shipyard in Bath, Maine, is a major employer in the state.
Maine voters also defeated a controversial imitative that would have banned the use of bait, traps or dogs to hunt bears. The ballot proposition had divided hunters and animal rights activists across the state and led to a spirited and expensive campaign in a state that is said to have more black bears than any other east of Mississippi.
The state had no races for senator or governor.
Kerry won his home state handily, with 62 percent of the vote.
The state's slate of 10 Democratic members of Congress sailed to victory, with four running unopposed.
New York (31)
Kerry took New York with 58 percent of the vote.
Incumbents also did well in this huge state.
Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D) crushed Republican challenger Howard Mills, a relative newcomer to statewide politics who ran as a fiscal conservative. Schumer won a second term with 71 percent of the vote.
New York had several competitive House races, most notably for two seats vacated by GOP Reps. Amo Houghton and Jack Quinn.
In Quinn's district in the Buffalo area, state Assemblyman Brian Higgins (D) received nearly 51 percent to edge Erie County Comptroller Nancy Naples (R). Naples a former Wall Street executive, emphasized fiscal responsibility. Higgins had reached out to the district's blue-collar roots by dwelling on his Irish American family's background as bricklayers and criticizing Naples for opposing a higher minimum wage.
In Houghton's district in western New York, Republican John Kuhl Jr. bested Samara Barend, 27, a former aide to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). Kuhl, a veteran New York state senator, overcame reports of a 1997 drunken-driving incident.
At the other end of the state, in the traditionally Republican area of eastern Long Island, first-term Rep. Tim Bishop (D) beat back a strong challenge from William Manger Jr. (R), a former policy adviser in the Bush administration's Transportation Department.
Rhode Island (4)
Kerry won the smallest state by a big margin, drawing nearly 60 percent.
Patrick J. Kennedy, who was first elected to the House in 1994 and is the son of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), overcame a challenge from David Rogers, an oil industry consultant who emphasized his background as a Navy SEAL. It was Rogers's second run against Kennedy, who won 64 percent of the vote.
The state's other Democratic congressman, James R. Langevin, won easily with nearly 75 percent.
The state had no races for senator or governor.
The home state of former governor Howard Dean, whom Kerry defeated in the Democratic primaries, gave Kerry 59 percent of its vote.
Despite the strong support for the Massachusetts Democrat, Vermont voters handed a second term to their Republican governor, Jim Douglas, a veteran politician who has held statewide office for all but two years since 1980. Winning 59 percent of the balloting, Douglas handily beat longtime Burlington Mayor Peter Clavelle, who was elected to the mayoralty as a Progressive but switched his political affiliation to the Democrats.
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D) easily defeated business consultant Jack McMullen (R).
Earlier this year, Leahy, who got more than 70 percent to win a sixth term, clashed famously with Vice President Cheney over the role in Iraq of Cheney's former firm, Halliburton Co. The clash prompted the vice president to use an obscenity on the Senate floor.