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Joyce Endee

Voter indecision common in upcoming Republican primary

January 04, 2012
JEFFERSON/LANCASTER — "I'm undecided on for whom I'll vote on January 10," said Bruce Cameron of Jefferson who was enjoying a bowl of soup on Tuesday, Dec. 27, at the Home Town Market & Grill on Route 2. "All the Republican candidates are discrediting each other, reaching back to review decisions and comments their rivals made 20 years ago. We've already got problems, and this doesn't help."

Terry Kenison, also of Jefferson, who is registered as an Independent, plans to vote in the Republican presidential primary but explained that he changes his mind, day-to-day, on who to support. "We've enough thieves in Washington now," Kenison said.

Ken Dobson of Jefferson, also a registered Independent, said that although he doesn't plan to vote for incumbent President Barack Obama in November he could change his mind, depending on who ends up as the Republican nominee.

Ron Medeiros, another Independent of Jefferson, explained that he does not plan to vote in the primary. "There's nobody really worth voting for," said the semi-retired self-employed man. "I'll have to see who is on the ballot come November; I'd vote for Donald Trump."

Nick Bisson, also of Jefferson, explained that he is not registered to vote and really doesn't pay attention to national politics.

Home Town Market employee Katrina Stewart, a registered Independent in Lancaster, said she certainly plans to vote for a Republican on the Jan. 10, but prefers to keep her choice private.

Protestant minister John Taylor and his wife Pat, organist at the Community Baptist Church in Whitefield, both of Groveton, who had been shopping together at Shaw's supermarket on Main Street in Lancaster, said they plan to vote for Newt Gingrich. "He has the most qualifications," Mr. Taylor explained. "He can handle Washington; he's not an outsider, and he's a no-nonsense man.

Another Shaw's shopper, Jana Whitney of Lancaster, said that she had never registered to vote but was thinking that she would like to participate in the Nov. 6 general election. Tom Whitney Jr., also of Lancaster, said that although he is registered to vote, he is still undecided for which Republican candidate he would cast his ballot next week.

Noah Cadieux of Lancaster said he likes the way that former Bay State Governor Mitt Romney talks but that if he is not the Republican nominee he will likely vote for Obama's reelection on Nov. 6.

"Cos County Democrat" Jefferson correspondent Wilma Corrigan and her husband Rupert said that they also fall into the "undecided" column on which Republican candidate for the presidential nomination they'll vote for. "We're looking at Ron Paul and Romney, she said. Ms. Corrigan is absolutely definite about one political decision: she will never vote for Obama. She admitted that her sister disagrees with her, however, and supports a second term for Obama.

Whitefield Town Clerk Stephanie Glidden said she that she anticipates a good turnout on Tuesday. "There have been quite a few calls for absentee ballots, which is usually a good indicator," Glidden reported.

The Secretary of State's office has sent out a reminder that there is also a Democratic primary election. The Republican primary ballot has 30 names on it, and the Democratic ballot, 14.

A recent Carsey Institute report — "Changes in New Hampshire's Republican Party: Evolving Footprint in Presidential Politics, 1960-2008" — pointed out that Cos County has even less voting clout than 30 years ago. Furthermore, Granite State voters are less Republican since 1960, and the GOP's strength has shifted to southern counties over the last five decades.

"Thirty years ago, a Republican running for president could find a fair number of votes in the rural counties of the Granite State," the report states. "One third of all GOP ballots cast in the 1976 primary came from places such as Belknap (6 percent) and Carroll (5 percent), as well as counties bordering Vermont such as Grafton (8 percent) and Cheshire (7 percent). Even Cos County accounted for 4 percent of all GOP primary votes.

"By 2008, Cos County's 'voting power' in the primary had shrunk by half, from 4 percent of ballots cast to just 2 percent. And the influence of the rural periphery as a whole has waned significantly. These six counties now account for just one of every four votes cast in the presidential primary.

"On the one hand, national political reporters will have an increasingly difficult time landing an interview with the laconic old-timer sporting the red plaid jacket. On the other, a chief complaint about the New Hampshire primary — that its voters are too rural, hence too unrepresentative of the general electorate — is dissipating," explained Dante Scala, associate professor of political science and a faculty fellow the Carsey Institute. "The fate of Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and the other competitors will largely be decided by voters who live within the environs of the Greater Boston metropolitan area," he said. "As such, they might be a harbinger of how Republicans in other suburbs around the country may choose when it is their turn to cast votes."

In 1976, voters in Hillsborough and Rockingham counties combined to cast 44 percent of all ballots in the Republican primary. By 2008, their portion of the primary vote had increased to 55 percent. Three of 10 votes were cast in Hillsborough alone, one of four in Rockingham.

Merrimack and Strafford counties have held steady in terms of voting power in the Republican primary, casting roughly one of five votes.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
Garnett HIll
Varney Smith
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