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The Exchange

An Update on New Hampshire's U.S. Senate Race

Credit: NHPR

We discuss one of the mostly closely watched races of this election season, between Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan and incumbent Republican Kelly Ayotte, for U.S. Senate. We follow up on their debate Monday night, and go in-depth on some of the major national, and local issues, drawing attention in this race. 


  • Meg Heckman - Journalism lecturer at UNH, and former reporter for the Concord Monitor and other publications.
  • Wayne Lesperance - Interim Dean of Undergraduate Studies and a professor of Political Science at New England College.
  • Dean Spiliotes - Civic scholar in the School of Arts and Sciences at SNHU and author of the website NH Political Capital. 

Meg Heckman notes that both candidates are female, and both are invested deeply in a lot of issues, and this adds more nuance to the debate than some races in the past, especially when it comes to women's issues.

Women are not the other, they are very much part of this conversation.

Heckman also says that she was surprised that Medicaid expansion did not come up more in the debate. 

I was covering the state senate when [Hassan] was a state Senator, and those were the areas where she was particularly active and really good at articulating the need for these services in a way that was very understandable and very accessible to the general public.

Wayne Lesperance notes that, going into this debate, the candidates are in unique positions from which they must impress voters.

You really [have] the incumbent [Ayotte], who is trying to play defense, who really wanted to protect her role...[Hassan] came in with a mission. She wanted to land gloves on Kelly Ayotte and I think she did in a lot of ways... She went after Senator Ayotte for being in the pocket of the Koch brothers, for being a Washington insider, for doing things like the Washington "two-step."

As a result, Ayotte spent much of the debate trying to remind voters that she is, in fact, connected to the Granite State.

Dean Spiliotes notes that independent voters are difficult to predict, and it is hard to know how this debate might influence this group.

[Independent voters] tend to decide late, they tend to pay less attention to politics...Maybe they'll decide based more on New Hampshire-style criteria, [such as] who they think will do a better job for things that New Hampshire needs.

The Exchange will host its own U.S. Senate forum with the Business Industry Association of New Hampshire and New Hampshire Business Review on October 25th at 1 P.M. at Saint Anselm College. 

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