Despite the lack of drama in the Democratic Primary, supporters of President Barack Obama made their presence felt at the polls in Plymouth throughout the day Tuesday, alongside dogged supporters of his Republican challengers for a shot at the Oval Office. (Marcia Morris) (click for larger version)
January 11, 2012REGION — After a flurry of activity early in the day, there was a slow, steady stream of voters all day at polling places across the Pemi-Baker and Newfound regions as the "first in the nation" Presidential Primary day came and went without much fanfare or drama in most local towns.
With little suspense in the Democratic Primary, despite some 14 names on the ballot, vote totals were low on the Democratic balloting, with many undeclared and independent voters choosing to weigh in on the Republican ballot, where they felt their vote could really make a difference in the results. Nevertheless, supporters of President Barack Obama made their presence felt with a show of force outside local polling places to remind voters of the road that lies ahead.
The Republican race attracted most of the focus, with the race for second place dominating most of the pundits' analysis, if not the voters' rapt attention. After a comparatively quiet season of campaigning here in Plymouth and surrounding communities, as expected, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney –a familiar face on the campaign trail here in New Hampshire — was declared the statewide winner early Tuesday evening.
Only shortly thereafter, the race for second place was called for Dr. Ron Paul, who garnered an impressive showing both locally and statewide, with a sizable margin over third place finisher Jon Hunstman. Huntsman had spent a great deal of time waging an aggressive grassroots campaign in our region for many months.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Rep. Rick Santorum vied almost everywhere for a distant fourth place finish in a field of 30 candidates listed on the Republican ballot.
Locally, the story of the evening was Paul, who battled neck and neck with Romney in many of the key local communities.
Paul had a particularly strong showing in Ashland, Plymouth and Campton.
In Plymouth, Romney narrowly edged out Paul by a vote of 187 to 185, with each candidate sharing 27 percent of the total Republican ballots. Huntsman was a close third in Plymouth, with 22 percent of the vote, or 148 votes.
In Ashland, Paul won narrowly in a "dead heat" with Romney, edging out Romney by a margin of only three votes. Romney and Paul each shared 32 percent of the vote in Ashland, Huntsman trailing with a distant 15 percent of the vote in town.
The results were only slightly less close in Campton, where once again, Romney and Paul battled it out for the distinction of being the top vote-getter. Ultimately, Romney won 29 percent of the Republican ballots, or 173 votes, with Paul receiving 27 percent, or 161 votes. Huntsman came in third with 18 percent, or 109 votes.
Paul was a decisive winner in Alexandria, with 43 percent of the Republican ballots there, followed by Romney with 24 percent and Huntsman with 14 percent.
Romney enjoyed a much more decisive victory in Bristol, where he beat out Paul by a vote of 284 votes to 185 votes, taking 39 percent of the vote as compared to Paul's 25 percent. Again, Huntsman lagged behind with a total of 136 votes, or 19 percent of the Republican ballots.
Romney had a strong showing in several other local communities, taking 33 percent of the Republican vote in Holderness with 167 votes, followed by Huntsman at 23 percent at 117 votes and Paul coming in third with 19 percent of the total Republican vote.
Romney also fared well in Bridgewater, where he won 40 percent of the Republican ballots, and Hebron, with 33 percent of the vote.
Complete results for all area communities were not available at press time.
There was a noticeable absence of politicking outside most local polling spaces, with only a spattering of people braving the cold and windy day to hold signs for their chosen candidates.
The Presidential Primary is always a bittersweet event, as voters cast their all important ballots and say farewell to the intense media spotlight for at least the next two and one-half years. As the phone-calls and direct mail pieces stop coming and the nation's attention turns southward, to South Carolina and Florida, many local residents said that they were happy to take a deep breath and put the politics back on the shelf for a while... at least until Town Meeting.