The Late Deciders Decide
Updated 4:15 p.m.
By Joel Achenbach
MERRIMACK, N.H. -- Time for some very unscientific exit polling and interviews. In recent days, a number of New Hampshire voters told The Trail that they hadn't yet made up their minds. Now they have.
Ray Rich, 57, an artist and Republican from Hillsboro, said Friday at the Mike Huckabee event in Henniker that he liked Mitt Romney's stance on Social Security. But today Rich turned against Romney.
"I voted for John McCain because I thought he had the best chance of beating Romney. I received countless [pre-recorded] phone calls from the Romney campaign, and the feeling I got from them was a very cold feeling. They were extremely negative, slamming other candidates. I was just so put off by that that I attempted to strategically vote to block him."
Caren Swanson, 28, a librarian in Andover, said at a John Edwards rally in Lebanon Saturday that she agrees with Dennis Kucinich on most policy issues. But she thought she might vote for a more viable candidate, such as Edwards or Barack Obama. She stayed up until 1:30 a.m. this morning deliberating, and finally decided on the candidate she saw in person yesterday afternoon: Obama. She found him charismatic and able to connect with people.
"I think he could be a positive voice, bringing America together, which I think America really needs right now," she said. "There's so much bitterness from these extreme groups."
She added, "Race was also part of it for me. I'm tempted by Kucinich and Edwards, but how can I vote for a white man when I have an opportunity to vote for a woman or a person of color?...I couldn't pass up the opportunity to vote for a person who is more representative of the diversity we're living in, both in the country and in the world."
Susan Adie, 48, a registered nurse in Hudson who is an independent, said Friday night at a Romney event that she voted for George W. Bush in 2004 and typically votes for a Republican. This year she was thinking about going for Obama. She didn't.
"It was a surprise, right at the last minute, but I ended up voting for Ron Paul. The deciding factor at the last minute was that I definitely didn't want socialized medicine, so Obama was out. And Romney seems to be so out of touch about gay rights." She said she liked Ron Paul's ideas about the war, education and health care. I asked what she meant by "the last minute."
"In the booth," she said. "I had to circle one."
Judy MacHardy, a retiree in Durham, did some Obama and Hillary Clinton comparison shopping Sunday. She left Obama's rally in Exeter feeling "up, and inspired," and thought she'd probably vote for him.
But Clinton blew her away at the rally in Hampton.
"She just was so knowledgeable and so in tune with the issues and so clear in her explanations," she said. "I think Obama is very inspirational, and very charismatic, more so than Hillary, but I learned more and I felt more comfortable listening to her answers."
Carol Cohen, 51, who works in sales in Bow, had been solid for Edwards after hearing him in Concord Saturday. Then she saw the news last night.
"Watching her let her strong faÃ§ade crack last night on the news, and actually show how personally committed she is, was a turning point for me. When I got in the booth I spent a long time thinking about it, and I went for Hillary."
Sharon Smith, of Rye, a social worker, was impressed when she saw Obama in Exeter, but that night she watched the cable news and also decided she was more comfortable with Clinton's experience.
"I don't know who Obama's people are. I know Hillary will choose good people to be with her," she said. "I was concerned about what he's going to do when the speeches are over."
Sarah Peteraf, 20, a college student from Hanover, decided to vote absentee Monday for Obama, hoping to prevent Clinton from winning: "Basically the race was a little too tight between Obama and Hillary to vote for Edwards right now, despite my alignment with Edwards's policies."
Web Politics Editor
January 8, 2008; 3:49 PM ET
Categories: B_Blog , Joel's New Hampshire Diary , The Democrats
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