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New Hampshire Primaries

Welcome to the New Hampshire primaries!  Your humble Political Buzz correspondent has deep ties to the Granite State. My mother grew up there, and my grandmother, uncle and aunt, and my favorite cousin still live there. I own a T-shirt with the outline of the state and the words “Live Free or Die,” the state motto, printed around it.

The New Hampshire primaries are being touted as a huge victory for Hillary Clinton, with as much hyperbole as was used over Barack Obama after Iowa. Obviously, they can be just as wrong. Since neither of the two parties have voted for the same person in the two states, that just means we’ve got a fight. And that those of us who don’t live in Iowa or New Hampshire get to have a say in the process.

There’s also an interesting bit of the process that goes without mention: superdelegates. The superdelegates are elected officials and party leaders who get a vote at the convention. The primary winners get a certain number of delegates out of the state’s total: in the case of New Hampshire, Clinton and Obama both got 9 and John Edwards got the remaining 4. Back in Iowa, Obama got 16, Edwards 15 and Clinton 14. But with the superdelegates who have declared their support for Clinton ahead of any voting (note that they can change their minds at any time, unswayed by any popular vote), she’s way in the lead with 183. Still, with 2025 required to win the nomination, that’s a long way off.

The Republican race is similar, but they don’t have superdelegates, just 463 unpledged delegates. Since John McCain won New Hampshire by a much larger margin than Clinton, the hyperbole will be even more on his side, and Mitt Romney has been declared dead in the water. It might be interesting to note that Romney has 30 delegates to Mike Huckabee’s 21 and McCain is in third with 10.

Don’t you just love our crazy political processes? Now, back to New Hampshire for some word from inside the vote.

New Hampshirites feel strongly about their state, and none more so than Christina R. Sardinha, who’s agreed to talk to us about the New Hampshire primary. Christina is a custom tattoo artist who lives in Somersworth, New Hampshire, and she has a tattoo of her state’s motto.  She’s self-employed at the young age of 27, and is very involved in the political process. Here’s a little insight into the New Hampshire process from her eyes.

Kaffeine Buzz: How many New Hampshire primaries have you voted in?

Christina Sardinha: This will be my second. Unfortunately, when I became of age to vote the first time, I didn’t really understand what the primaries were.  I think a lot of people don’t fully understand and our schools don’t put a lot of focus on the importance of the primaries.

KB: Can you tell us some things about the New Hampshire primary from your
 point of view?

CS: If I had to guess who would win based on the amount of signs up, I’d say Ron Paul, hands down.  All of the places I drive are covered with Ron Paul signs. Personally, I’m not very happy with Ron Paul myself, and I think New Hampshire loves him because he fits in with some of the libertarian beliefs.  Unfortunately, a lot of young liberals see him in a golden light too.  I don’t think they are looking beyond what they consider the positive aspects.

As for democratic signs, Obama probably has the most signs, but Hillary Clinton has the biggest!

If you walk around New Hampshire and listen to the chatter, a lot of people are discussing Ron Paul, Obama and Hillary as well.  You’ll hear an occasional grumble about Mitt Romney.  A lot of people are talking about Hillary Clinton’s health care plan, about Obama and Oprah and about Ron Paul giving more rights to individual states.

New Hampshire is a very proud state and we like to have as much control over our laws as we can.  People are really skeptical of Hillary’s health care and I’ve heard a lot of arguments over it being too socialized. I’ve heard a couple of people discuss Obama’s religious beliefs.

KB: Is it a good thing that New Hampshire’s primary is the first in the nation?

I think New Hampshire has a pretty good understanding of politics in comparison to a lot of other states.  Many people live here because New Hampshire is the “Live Free or Die” state.  We have a wide assortment of political beliefs ranging from the normal Republican/Democrat duo to liberals, environmentalists and libertarians.  I think we’re a very opinionated and strong state, so being the first to vote probably doesn’t make much of a difference for us.  I don’t think New Hampshire is the type of state to see what everyone else is doing first.

KB: Does it make you feel more responsible for voting?

CS: Personally, I feel that being such a privileged country, we are all obligated to vote.  I don’t think the order of the primaries adds any weight to that for me.

KB: How do you feel about the Iowa caucuses and the results?

CS: I think they probably have a pretty similar result as to what NH will have.  I’m pretty content with the results.

KB: How is the turnout usually in your precinct?

CS: I’m not really sure, because I’ve moved and this is a new precinct for me.  In previous years, I was in a precinct that was located in a rather “poor” section of town.  I know then, that the turnout wasn’t amazing.

KB: Do you think turnout is going to be higher this year? Do you know any
 people who plan on voting for the first time in this year’s primary?

CS: Honestly, I think it probably won’t be higher.  I think Bush was a really rare candidate due to the fact that people either wish death upon him or worship at his feet.  I think everyone was so eager to either support him, or get him out.  This year, I think we have a pretty averagely liked and disliked group of candidates, no one inspiring any riots. So I think it will be a pretty average turnout.

KB: How many candidates have you actually seen around town stumping? Gone to any events?

CS: I almost walked into Bill Richardson in downtown Portsmouth.  We both turned the corner at the same time.  I didn’t realize he was a candidate at first.  I just thought to myself, “Man, that guy is really tan! He can’t be from NH!” 

Then I looked up and saw a group of people rushing over with “Bill Richardson” signs and it all made sense. I also was in Portsmouth during Hillary’s rally. I didn’t listen to her speak, but she had a huge crowd.

KB: Who are you planning to vote for?

CS: I did vote for Kucinich last time. I still think he’s an excellent choice.  I like Obama, and I like Edwards too.  I don’t think Hillary is too bad either, but I don’t see fully eye to eye with her. I have a friend who keeps telling me I should vote instead for the Republican I hate the least!  He figures we’ll be content with any of the Democrats, but a couple of the Republicans would make life uncomfortable.  I’m going to vote for Edwards, though. 

KB: Which issues made you choose him? Are you a hard-core supporter or a recent convert?

CS: I wouldn’t say I’m a hard-core supporter, but I’m skeptical of all politicians.

The most important issue for me is probably the environment. I read an article recently that said within 10 years we’ll start to see flooding on most of the coastlines. I want someone who will recognize the dangers and begin to make serious changes, while not losing sight of the rest of the issues. 

Also, I think health care is a big one.  I’m self-employed and it would be nice to know that I’ll be able to have a career and get medical help for myself, and my family too.

The education of our children is also a major concern of mine.  The school systems are highly lacking, and in some cases, what I would consider pathetic.  One of the things that John Edwards puts a lot of focus on are our schools, including a way to help more people afford college. We don’t need more testing in our schools, we need higher standards.

Edwards also recognizes the fact that middle class is slowly degrading into lower class and that a giant gap is forming. 

KB: Do you have a second choice?

CS: I’d probably say Kucinich.

KB: Could you rank the candidates in your order of preference?

CS: John Edwards
Dennis Kucinich
Barack Obama
Hillary Clinton
Bill Richardson
John McCain
Rudy Giuliani
And Fred Thompson, Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, and Mitt Romney all at the bottom

I really dislike Romney and I feel like he was be a serious step back for our country.

KB: If you had to choose one from the other party, who would it be?

CS: McCain, although I don’t like his views, he’s the lesser of the “evils”. At least he’s not making up a bunch of lies about his dad marching with Martin Luther King, right?

KB: How positive are you feeling about this election in general?

CS: I’m feeling pretty good. I’m always pretty confident in New Hampshire’s voting, and I think we have a few decent people this election.  I think people are starting to see that there are some important issues out there and American citizens are looking to implement positive change.

And after the votes are in:

CS: In my ward we had a turnout of over 500 of the registered voters show up out of the 1100 people registered, as of 6:15, and the polls closed at 7. And there was a line of about 10 people at that time.  So…  The old guy at the counter said it was the best turnout he’s seen in the time he’s worked the polls. He said he’s worked them almost 20 years.  So I think that’s really positive and surprising.

KB: John Edwards and Dennis Kucinich are both running again after running in 2004. What made you choose Edwards this time? What was different?

CS: Well, I think in 2004 i was just really stoked about kucinich, and Edwards was a little less strong.  I don’t really remember him being as strong on environment or healthcare, and Kucinich was really focused on the environment.  Also, Kucinich had a great plan for getting troops out of Iraq.  I didn’t really see a lot of that in 2004.  Now almost everyone has a plan!

I voted in ward 3, my husband in ward 5. His was the ward that had over 500 people.

As for Hillary… I think she’s a business woman. She’ll probably do some great things for our country.  Personally, I’m just not sure that all of those great things will effect me positively.  I’m not sure her health care plan will be all that amazing for self-employed people. I’d prefer Obama out of the two.  But I’d take either over any of the Republicans!

I think the fact that a woman and a black man are running is a huge step for our country.  Of course, they’re running against a man who makes disparaging remarks against Muslims, a man who compares abortion to slavery, and a man who takes money from well known nationalists.  So maybe the ignorance balances out the good?  I feel like if either Hillary or Obama win, we’ll be making a huge leap and I’d love to be able to tell my grandchild someday that I voted the first woman or black man into presidency. But more importantly, that they are both qualified for the job.

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