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CONTOOCOOK, N.H. — Curtis and Susan Abel trudged carefully through the snowy parking lot of the school where they had just voted, both satisfied that they made the right decision.

Curtis, 80, cast his ballot for Bernie Sanders. Susan, 79, opted for Hillary Clinton.

"I guess we canceled each other out," Susan Abel said with a smile. "It's just, everybody's voting their heart today."

After months of seemingly endless exposure to the presidential candidates — seeing their town halls, receiving their mailings and watching their ads — New Hampshire's famously fickle voters in both parties finally got a chance to weigh in Tuesday.

Here, at a precinct in a picturesque New England village, a steady stream of Democrats, Republicans and independents took their turn to vote.

It was time, they said, to tune out the noise and go with their gut. Even if their gut eluded them until the very moment it was time to vote.

"We've been back and forth," said Kurt Woetzel, 71, a retired business owner who showed up with his wife, Suzanne.

The Woetzels, who said they have lived here since 1969, said this was the hardest choice they've faced in a primary. They said they narrowed it to Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. They finally picked Cruz in part because they worried about Rubio's halting performance in the last debate.

Cruz's "values match up with ours," Curtis Woetzel said. "We are evangelical Christians. That's one of his labels."


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The scene was pure New Hampshire, a mixture of winter and politics. Voters strolled past neighbors who hoisted campaign placards, and walked into the gymnasium of Hopkinton Middle/High School, where ski bags were stacked against the walls.

Ed Ferrero, a 53-year-old sales manager, walked into the school without having made a final decision. He had narrowed his options into two seemingly disparate choices — the self-described Democratic socialist Sanders and Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Ferrero said he decided in the polling station that Kasich fit a middle-of-the-road mold. So he voted for the governor.