A portrait of what it looks like when politics gets polarized, and how hard it is for people in the middle to hang on. Producer Sarah Koenig explains what happened when a wave of Republican politicians swept to power with a three-to-one majority in 2010. New Hampshire’s a small state, and the shift to a more divisive in-your-face kind of politics happened very quickly, so it’s possible to see exactly what’s gained and lost when that happens. (30 1/2 minutes)
Update 11/7/12: Our story ended with a question: Is this an aberration, or is this the new New Hampshire? Yesterday we got an answer — and it demonstrates how the state's huge House of Representatives is so very representative, so responsive to shifts in public mood. After giving Republicans a three-to-one majority in the House and Senate in 2010, voters have swung the other way. Here's what we know so far: Early numbers have the Democrats taking 217 seats to the Republicans' 177, with six seats still undetermined. Speaker Bill O'Brien won his House seat, but he won't be speaker again, because Republicans not only lost their majority, they lost the House entirely. Reporters in New Hampshire are saying that Bill O'Brien won't be seeking any leadership position at all.