Notes on New Hampshire Primary day

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From Stratham, New Hampshire –

The surge that led to victory Tuesday night in the Granite State for Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders were keyed by victories in towns such as this one in the southeastern part of New Hampshire, as voters sent both parties a message that they want to see something different in November.

Turnout was heavy across the state, and I saw that first hand at a series of polling sites, like this one in Stratham, where I chatted briefly with volunteers for Carly Fiorina and Donald Trump.

I recognized the Fiorina volunteer – she was staying in my hotel with a number of others who were working for Carly. Their long day standing in the cold did not really work out too well, as Fiorina would be out of the race 24 hours later.

Police were directing traffic in and out of the parking lot by the town’s municipal building, as there was a steady stream of people arriving to vote.

It was the same story a few miles away in Exeter, where the polls were humming as I stood outside for a half hour.

“I voted for Bernie,” said Melanie Shields of Exeter after she emerged from the polls. “Pretty much across the board, his issues are my issues.”

Near the end of our interview, I asked Shields if she had thought about voting for Hillary Clinton, if she ends up winning the Democratic Party nomination.

“It would actually be under duress,” Shields told me, as her reaction made clear it would not be her first choice at all.

I also went by the town hall in Newfields, another town where the parking lot was full and the local residents were scurrying in to vote before dinner.

I did enjoy the combination of the sign about the primary and the bake sale.

All three of the towns I stopped in to check on primary voting had gone for Mitt Romney in 2012 – by wide margins.

Now, all three of them were ready to deliver a victory to Donald Trump, who led John Kasich and Marco Rubio in Exeter, Stratham and Newfields.

When you think about that – it was a dramatic switch from four years ago to go from Romney and John Huntsman running one-two, to Trump getting about 30 percent of the vote.

As for the Democrats, Bernie Sanders won all three of those New Hampshire towns, at about the same rate that Barack Obama had outpaced Hillary Clinton eight years earlier.

As I was getting ready to watch the election results on Tuesday night and do live reports for my radio stations, I stopped by a local grocery store to get some supplies for the evening.

At the checkout register, the woman in front of me said that Bill Clinton had just been at the Exeter polling place – meaning I missed him by just a few minutes.

“It’s a good thing I didn’t see him there,” the twenty-something girl behind the counter said.

“I would have punched him in the face,” she stated with absolutely no hint of humor in her voice.

It was a fitting coda to my time on the ground in New Hampshire, a state that had played a historic role in 1992 for Bill Clinton (the Comeback Kid) and in delivering an unexpected upset for Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama in 2008.

But not in 2016. That well has run dry.

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