BOW, N.H. -- My tour of four somewhat representative New Hampshire polling stations started here, in a wealthy, historically Republican town south of Concord. And yet the first voter I met, 87-year-old Gordon (no last name, thanks), was a Democrat who voted for Obama in 2008 and came out to do it again.
"Did you see who else was on the ballot?" he asked. "Terrible group. Vermin something." He planned to vote for the president again in November, but Huntsman didn't seem so bad to him. "He's a reasonable, logical person, unlike the rest."
Next up: Tom Keane, a first-term Republican state legislator.
"I voted for Gingrich," he said. "I'm one of those people who made up their minds at the last minute." He wanted a candidate who could defeat the president, "which won't be done easily," and Romney and Gingrich were the best debaters in the pack. "If they actually put on those Lincoln-Douglas debates [a Gingrich campaign promise!] either one of these candidates could defeat Obama." He claimed not to have been swayed by the last 48 hours of negative Romney coverage. "Oh, he was taken out of context."
Ralph Mecheau, an African-American vet who relocated to Bow after Vietnam, voted for Jon Huntsman then stayed outside to hold one of the candidate's signs. "I like that he served under both parties," he said, "and I like that he put in a flat-line tax in Utah." Four years ago he'd voted for John McCain, then switched to Obama for the general election. "I'm an independent-minded Republican."
Janet Shaw, a retiree who'd lived in Bow for 49 years, wasn't thinking about an Obama vote. "He's such a socialist," she said. "I've been against socialism my whole life, and that's what he's for. Really, he's the worst president we've had." She voted for Romney in 2008, and she voted for him again this time. "People make fun of you if you're patriotic," she said. "He truly loves America. He's bold, he doesn't have an ego."
One of my traveling partners, Boston.com blogger Garrett Quinn, struck gold: He found two Buddy Roemer supporters who'd taken a liking to the niche candidate after seeing him on the Daily Show. Alas, a network exit pollster had set up in Bow, giving us a chance to see who was on the ballot that political scientists will use to gauge what happened here. Roemer was not on it.