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Connecticut Republican Rep. Chris Shays, a perennial target for Democrats, lost his bid for an 11th term in one of the more significant losses tonight for congressional Republicans.
With Shays gone, the Republican Party no longer represents any congressional districts in the six states–Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, New Hamp
shire and Maine—that make up New England.
Shays was perhaps best known for his work with presidential candidate John McCain to pass sweeping 2002 campaign finance reform laws.
Shays was ousted by Democrat Jim Himes, a former Goldman Sachs executive. Barack Obama at the top of the ticket may have helped Himes as the Illinois senator easily dispatched McCain in Connecticut.
The Connecticut Republican had been realistic about his re-election prospects this year. Even Shays’ brother, Peter, expressed doubts for a victory. Peter Shays told the Associated Press that his brother refused to run a negative campaign “and he got hurt a little bit with that.”
Sen. Barack Obama picked up two key states that Sen. John McCain was hoping to switch from blue to red.
The Democrat is projected to win Pennsylvania (21 electoral votes) and New Hampshire (4 electoral votes).
New Hampshire was the state that resuscitated McCain’s chances last year, and helped propel him to the Republican nomination. He also won the state’s primary in 2000 against President Bush.
The current electoral vote tally:
On the eve of the penultimate presidential debate, a new TIME/CNN poll shows John McCain still struggling in states won by George W. Bush in 2004, a sign that last week’s vice presidential debate had little effect on voter opinion.
In North Carolina, which Bush won by more than 12 percentage points in both 2000 and 2004, McCain and Obama are locked in a dead heat, with each candidate garnering the support of 49% of likely voters. In Indiana, which Bush won by 21 points in 2004 and 16 points in 2000, McCain maintains a slight 5 point lead over Obama, with 51% of likely voters, compared to Obama’s 46%.
In the crucial swing state of Ohio, which Bush won by slight margins in both 2000 and 2004, McCain trails Obama by 3 points, with the support of 47% of voters, compared to Obama’s 50%. Obama also holds a statistically significant 8 point lead over McCain in New Hampshire and a 5 point lead in Wisconsin, two states that Democrat John Kerry was able to win in 2004.
As a result of the new survey, CNN now considers New Hampshire and Wisconsin to be Obama-leaning states, after previously being considered tossups. North Carolina is now considered a tossup, after previously being categorized as a McCain-leaning state.
The polls were conducted between October 3 and 6, after last Thursday’s debate. They have a margin of error of +/- 3.5 to 4 percentage points.
Last week, the McCain campaign reacted to a polling downturn by shuttering its operation in the state of Michigan and redistributing staff to Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Maine, where electoral votes are distributed by congressional district. In a conference call last week, Mike DuHaime, the McCain campaign’s political director, acknowledged that the national mood and Obama’s deep pockets had put previously solid Republican states like Indiana in play.
“I do think just the overall environment right now that we face is one of the worst environments for any Republican in probably 35 years,” DuHaime said. “Any time you have that, you have states move within that margin.”
After two grueling years, only two major events remain in the 2008 presidential campaign, a candidate town hall forum Tuesday in Tennessee, and a debate on October 15 in New York. In a nod to the dwindling window of opportunity, McCain again sharpened his attacks on Obama during a stump speech Monday in New Mexico, charging that Obama harbors a “back story” on every issue that needs to be explored.
“All people want to know is: What has this man ever actually accomplished in government? What does he plan for America?” McCain said. “In short: Who is the real Barack Obama? But ask such questions and all you get in response is another barrage of angry insults.”
Campaigning in North Carolina, Obama countered by charging that McCain and his aides were “gambling that they can distract you with smears rather than talk to you about substance.”