New Hampshire a Primary Culture


CONCORD, N.H. (Jan. 6, 2012) — On behalf of their fellow Americans, New Hampshire voters are getting up close, personal and tough with the Republican presidential candidates in pursuit of the state’s primary on Jan. 10.

“New Hampshirites are acting as a proxy for people in the rest of the country,” said Chris Galdieri, a political scientist at Saint Anselm College in Manchester.  “What’s going on in New Hampshire is the best opportunity for Americans to see face-to-face interactions.”

They take that job seriously, he said. “It is part of the culture,” said Galdieri.

Jenn Collins, who lived in Oneida County near Utica and is now working temporarily in Concord, is a newcomer to this culture. She wishes her friends from New York would come to see the political scene here. “They don’t experience the excitement,” she said. So far, she’s met candidate Buddy Roemer in the basement of the state building. And today, she overheard Concord residents complain that President Barack Obama was visiting Iowa but not their state.

“I’ve gotten really excited because of the political climate here,” Collins said.

Paul Brown, 58, is a veteran of New Hampshire primaries. He is the owner of Madelines, a French eatery across from Concord’s Capitol. He is a Democrat who calls himself an  “independent-minded voter.” For example, he has crossed party lines to speak with several of the Republican candidates. Among them: Jon Huntsman, Gary Johnson, and Fred Carter. He has also seen Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich campaigning along Main Street.

But he’s not yet made up his mind. “Unless someone shows me something before Jan. 10,” said Brown, “I don’t see myself voting for anyone.”

(Elizabeth Carey, a graduate student in the magazine, newspaper and online journalism program at Syracuse University, is covering the New Hampshire primary for the Utica Observer-Dispatch.)


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