Speed Reads

2014 midterms

Democrat Jeanne Shaheen beats Scott Brown in New Hampshire

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) is projected to eke out a close win in her re-election bid after holding off a late surge from Republican challenger Scott Brown. NBC and ABC have called the race in Shaheen's favor, though results are still coming in.

The result bodes well for Democrats nationally, as a Brown win could have signaled that polling overestimated Democrats' strength this year, which would have been an ominous sign for their odds elsewhere around the country, too.

Shaheen led the entire way in the race, though Brown winnowed the gap over the closing two months of the campaign, raising expectations that he could duplicate his 2010 Massachusetts magic. In that year, Brown came from behind to pull off a stunning upset victory over Attorney General Martha Coakley in the special Senate election to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.

Despite Shaheen's robust approval rating, she was likely dragged down by President Obama, who is deeply unpopular in the state; a CNN poll last month pegged his approval rating at just 39 percent, a little lower than his national mark.

But Brown brought his own baggage to the race as well. After changing his residency from Massachusetts so he could join the race, Brown faced persistent accusations of carpetbagging, and was quizzed in one debate about New Hampshire geography. Democrats also accused him of running a campaign based on fear — he suggested terrorists could sneak across the border with Ebola — and he came under fire for repeatedly refusing to stake out a clear position on ObamaCare. He once candidly remarked, "I'm not going to get into any particulars" on the issue.