N.H. Voters Turn Out in Droves to Cast Ballots
The New Hampshire Primary
DILMANTEN IRON WORKS, N.H.--New Hampshire voters took their role as "first in the nation" quite seriously yesterday, turning out in droves to cast ballots in the state's primary.
A record number of approximately 200,000 GOP voters hit the polls to influence a tight race among U.S. Sen. Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.), former Tennessee governor Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and conservative commentator Patrick J. Buchanan.
Earlier in the week, members of the media predicted that the mudslinging throughout the campaign would keep disgusted voters away from the polls come election day.
Although some voters interviewed yesterday were disturbed about the high volume of negative ads which aired in the Granite State, many blamed the media for exaggerating voter discontent in the state.
Throughout New Hampshire yesterday, residents could not pass up the chance to help shape the Republican Party's agenda as it attempts to unseat President Bill Clinton in November.
Don Frary, owner and cashier at the country store in Chichester, said customers who stopped in to pick up milk and the morning paper were excited about yesterday's election.
"The only ones who won't vote are the Democrats," he said.
John Hickey, a selectman in nearby Epsom, predicted that the top candidates would be bunched within five points. "Every vote counts," he said.
Although New Hampshire is finally climbing out of the recession, many families in the state are still struggling to make ends meet, according to Hickey.
"Most people are working again," he explained. "But they are getting paid less, and both parents have to work if they want a roof over their heads."
Buchanan, who championed the blue-collar worker, promising to stop sending our jobs to China and Mexico, was appealing to some like dairy farmer Stewart Yatton, who said, "Free Trade and GATT are going to send us to hell."
But ultimately many voters said they were afraid Buchanan would sacrifice social programs that have provided a safety net for millions of Americans.
"People in this town are scared to death they will lose Health Care and Social Security," Yatten explained.
As a result, many voters were at a loss when they tried to identify the single candidate who would speak for the state and often remained undecided as they stepped inside the voting booth.
"Buchanan hits all the right buttons with me," said Patrick J. Jordan, 26, of Manchester, while voting at St. Pius Church. He agreed with Buchanan on many social and economic fronts including his isolationist trade policy.
Robert L. Calvert '39, stood outside Alton's only precinct--located in the village fire station--and held a sign for U.S. Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) but, he added, he doubted that Lugar would be elected.
"He's not nasty enough. He's too damn nice," said Calvert, who predicted Dole would win the primary here because he is the candidate with the most experience.
Bob and Wendy Dugas of Alton said they supported Alexander because he would hopefully save them money with his proposals for tax reform.
In the end, voters predicted that the political wrangling in the GOP and the Party's failure to rally behind a single candidate yesterday bodes ill for the future.
"The Republicans are going to screw it all up and Clinton is going to make it instead," said Tom Smithers, 67, of Dilmanten.