An Uncertain Bellweather so far


KINGSTON, NH (Jan. 8, 2012) –The morning after another debate of personal attacks and political theater, the town of Kingston, N.H, was still quite undecided.

The quiet town of Kingston is considered a bellwether in the Granite State. By definition, a bellwether picks the winner, said Andy Smith, a political scientist at the University of New Hampshire. But he’s not sold on the use of bellwether towns.

“I’m rather skeptical of these bellwether towns, it tends to be more of luck than anything else,” he said.

In 2004, Kingston correctly voted in the way of the state. Kingston voters in 2004 took John Kerry and George Bush. The state did also.

In 2008, Kingston voted for Hillary Rodham Clinton on the Democratic side, who eventually won the state. For Republicans however, Kingston voted for Mitt Romney, who was the runner-up in the state behind John McCain.

In a small random sampling on Sunday, Kingston voters are leaning toward Texas Rep. Ron Paul, but some are also considering former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. A number of voters in Kingston are undecided.

New Hampshire is made up of 234 towns, so statistically there are going to be towns who have correctly picked the winners in every modern primary since 1972, Smith said.

Some towns, in the southeastern part of the state, are towns that are representative of the whole state and those are towns that should be used as bellwethers, if at all, Smith said. “I haven’t really look at it very carefully,” he said, “but there are about half a dozen towns I’m sure that have picked the correct winner in almost all of the primaries since 1972.”

Kingston is a blue-collar Republican town in the southeastern, suburban part of the state, about 5 miles north of the Massachusetts border. “It has more a historic New England town look to it,” he said.

Dorothy Senter said she has not made up her mind yet but thinks she’s going to vote for Paul on Tuesday. “I’m not sure he’s going to be able to carry the vote and I’d like to see a Republican in this time,” she said inside Carriage Town Antiques & Uniques in Kingston.

Senter, 68, is not affiliated with any political party, she said, so she can choose the person — not the party — that she likes. She would like to see a Republican in office this time though. She said from what she’s heard as a part-time cashier, other people would too.

One local voter said he is voting for President Barack Obama on Tuesday. On his way to a budget meeting, Dick Gerrish said he is not like the majority of the town. Most are registered as Republicans. “About one-third are independents and that’s the unknown,” he said.
The voters in the town of Kingston don’t seem to be solidified on a candidate yet, said local business owners. From what Josiah’s Restaurant owner Donald Pierce has heard so far, local voters are disappointed with Obama but also with the Republican candidates.

The voters in Kingston are fiscally conservative, he said, and their big issue is the economy. “There’s a lot of retired people on social security who are still working into their 70s because they cant make ends meet with their social security checks,” Pierce said.

Pierce isn’t affiliated with a political party, but will register as a Republican on Tuesday to vote in the primary. He said is unsure of who he will vote for yet. Pierce’s restaurant was slow on Sunday morning, which is normal.

Across the street, Kingston Country Store owner Mark Cyrulik said the Republican candidates are all full of hot air. “They’re all making promises that they’re never going to keep,” he said. “It’s all just to get people to vote for them.”

Cryulik is not affiliated with a political party, but will vote on Tuesday, probably as a Republican. He is undecided as who he is going to vote for, he said, he still wants to do some research.

While stepping aside to deal with some elderly customers in the store, Cryulik explained why he likes the small town of Kingston. “It’s a very close-knit little town,” he said. “This town likes a little country store. I like people, I like talking to people and this is a nice little town.”

(Meghin Delaney, a junior with double majors in magazine journalism and political science, is covering the New Hampshire primary for The Lowell Sun.)


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