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New Hampshire Democrats retain US Senate, governor; house races split

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CONCORD, New Hampshire — Democrats surged to victories in three of New Hampshire's four high-profile races, retaining a U.S. Senate seat, the governor's office and a House seat, as a Republican wave never materialized in the state's midterm election.

Incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen held off a challenge by Republican Scott Brown in one of the nation's most closely watched Senate races. Brown was attempting to become just the third person to represent two states in the Senate after losing his seat in 2012 in Massachusetts.

In the governor's race, Democratic incumbent Maggie Hassan topped businessman Walt Havenstein to win a second term.

The third Democrat to win on Tuesday was in the 2nd Congressional District where U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster defeated GOP state Rep. Marilinda Garcia to win a second term. The only Democrat to lose was U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter in the 1st Congressional District, defeated by Frank Guinta in a so-called "threematch" between the two. It was the third time they'd faced each other.

Dante Scala, associate professor of political science at the University of New Hampshire, said the Democratic showing was largely a function of some benefits derived from the power of incumbency: Money and organization.

"It shows the Democratic Party in New Hampshire has built a house that Republicans can't blow down," he said. "I think it's a testament to the fact that New Hampshire democrats have built a party organization so strong that even a very good Republican year can't affect them to a big degree."

PHOTO: Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., hugs a volunteer holding a sign as she heads in to vote at the Town Hall in Madbury, NH,  Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014.  Shaheen, a Democrat seeking a second term, faces Republican Scott Brown, who is seeking to represent a second state. Brown moved to New Hampshire last year after losing his U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts.  (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., hugs a volunteer holding a sign as she heads in to vote at the Town Hall in Madbury, NH, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. Shaheen, a Democrat seeking a second term, faces Republican Scott Brown, who is seeking to represent a second state. Brown moved to New Hampshire last year after losing his U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)

In the Senate race, the two candidates' main attack lines appeared to work, according to preliminary results of an exit poll of 2,406 New Hampshire voters conducted for AP and the television networks by Edison Research.

Throughout the campaign, Shaheen tried to tag Brown as a carpetbagger, and voters appeared to agree — most said he hasn't lived in New Hampshire long enough to represent the state effectively.

Kitty Hok, an 80-year-old retiree from Concord, said her vote down the Democratic side of the ballot was shaped by concern over women's issues and the environment. She also didn't hold back disdain for Brown.

"He's not only a carpetbagger, I don't think he's all that clever," she said.

Voters also agreed with Brown that Shaheen too often agrees with President Barack Obama, but more than a tenth of them voted for Shaheen anyway. She also picked up similar support from voters who disapprove of how the president is handling his job, according to the exit poll.

In Concord, Julie Votaw voted straight Republican as a protest.

"I want to send a statement to the Obama administration that I'm very upset," the 50-year-old homemaker and independent voter said. "I just feel like no one is in control. It's almost like we don't have a leader."

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PHOTO: Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., hugs a volunteer holding a sign as she heads in to vote at the Town Hall in Madbury, NH,  Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014.  Shaheen, a Democrat seeking a second term, faces Republican Scott Brown, who is seeking to represent a second state. Brown moved to New Hampshire last year after losing his U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts.  (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)
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