President Obama reelected for a second term
President Barack Obama secured a second term in office Tuesday, once again backed by New Hampshire’s four electoral votes and voters in towns throughout the Monadnock region.
With unemployment high nationwide and a lagging economy, Obama faced strong opposition from Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his Republican supporters, who said the Romney ticket had the best plan to turn the country and its economy around. But one sentiment aired nationally and expressed by Democratic voters at area polls Tuesday, was that four years wasn’t enough time to yield a full return on the Obama recovery plan.
Obama carried the 16 towns in the Monadnock region the Ledger-Transcript covers with 12,968 votes, defeating Romney who brought in 11,555. While the majority of the 16 towns saw a difference of a couple hundred votes separating the two candidates, final voter tallies in New Ipswich and Peterborough showed a stronger political lean in favor of one man over the other. In Peterborough, 2,479 residents voted for Obama, with 1,309 votes cast for Romney. But in nearby New Ipswich, Romney defeated Obama 1,688 votes to 819 votes.
State Rep. John Hunt, a Rindge Republican who ran unopposed in Cheshire District 11, said by phone Wednesday that every community has its own political history, which often include distinct leans to the left or right over time. But in Rindge, where voters have historically voted conservative, Romney’s victory over Obama was just 306 votes Tuesday.
“We didn’t give as much of a bump as we normally would have given Republicans because of all the Franklin Pierce [University] students that showed up to vote,” said Hunt, adding that many registered Democrat and likely voted for that party down the ballot.
Republican State Rep. Frank Sterling of Jaffrey, who was defeated in his bid for Cheshire District 14 by Democrat Harry Young of Jaffrey on Tuesday, said that although New Hampshire has voted for the Republican presidential ticket for decades, “I don’t think New Hampshire will ever be a red state again.”
“People that are new residents of the state are decidedly less conservative than some of our old stock,” Sterling said, referring to young and newly registered voters. “I think in particular Cheshire County has really gone heavily to the left.”
While Obama’s ideas seemed like a fresh alternative to the majority of voters, who grappled with financial challenges in 2008, Sterling said he’s not quite sure what made the difference for Obama this time around.
Where votes for Romney were high in New Ipswich and, somewhat notable in Rindge, Sterling said the voter demographic in those two towns is distinct.
“I suspect that in Rindge and New Ipswich, where there are a lot of people in the building trades industry, the deflated housing market weighed very heavily on their minds,” he said, adding that those voters likely thought Romney, a businessman, had a better economic plan than Obama.
Romney supporter Jason Somero of New Ipswich said Wednesday that there are a lot of small business owners in town, and typically small business owners feel and see the effects of intrusive government more than others. “We live it,” Somero said. “When a new regulation comes down, a worker at Walmart doesn’t feel it, but a small business owner sure does.”
Somero said that greater than economic concerns, the issue of abortion is number one in his mind. Somero, who opposes abortion, said, “There is no way in good conscious that I could vote for Obama.”
In addition to the conservative leanings seen in Rindge and New Ipswich, voters in Mason also favored Romney 476 votes to 331 votes. In Jaffrey, Obama defeated Romney by just over 200 votes. The presidential race was close in both Bennington, with Obama winning by 22 votes, and Temple, with Obama winning by 32 votes.
At the polls Tuesday, campaigners from both political parties were outside holding signs and advocating for their favorite candidates. Among the Obama supporters outside the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Jaffrey, where the polls were held, were Democrats Joan O’Donnell and Karen Ball, both of Jaffrey, who expressed concern about the future role of women in society, health care and education.
O’Donnell also noted a lack of civility and honesty among members of the Republican Party, which she said has disheartened her in recent years. “I’ve gone for Obama because he inherited a mess and he’s approached it with civility,” she said. “Things aren’t great, but they’re improving.”
Ball, who is unemployed, said the Republican Party doesn’t have the best interests of the middle class at heart. “The Republican Party doesn’t care about the job market and wants to control it for self-interest,” she said.
But Republican Samuel Bouchai of Rindge, a small business owner and veteran, said outside the VFW on Tuesday that the country’s deficit is a huge concern to him and that Obama hasn’t made the country’s economic situation any better.
“Now, I worry about my grandkids,” he said. “Are we even going to leave them a country?”
Bouchai said the federal government doesn’t have control over the private sector jobs. And, rather than help the middle class with Obamacare, Bouchai said, Obama has hurt small businesses.
In neighboring Dublin, first-time voter Rachel Luke agreed with Bouchai that the economy and jobless rates topped concerns for voters nationally, but she disagreed that voting Romney into office was the answer.
“I think we are headed in the right direction,” Luke said. “I was unemployed and impacted in 2009 by the economic downfall, but I was able to find a job fairly quickly.”
If she had voted four years ago, Luke said she would have aligned more with Republican John McCain’s vision. “But now I’m encouraged by what Obama’s done,” she said. “He needs more time.”
Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or firstname.lastname@example.org. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.