As N.H. Primary Approaches, Not All Voters Are Tuning In

Feb 5, 2016

All this week, NHPR has been seeking out New Hampshire residents to talk politics, far from the presidential primary campaign trail. For our last installment, Paige Sutherland visited a Manchester gym to ask voters what's on their minds.

After work last Thursday night I headed to the fitness club down the street from my apartment. I set up a table and propped up a sign that read: “The New Hampshire Primary is in 12 days – who cares?"

Jeff Hock, 25, of Manchester says he doesn't pay much attention to politics but says he'll still vote on Primary Day.
Credit Paige Sutherland/NHPR

Most that passed by declined to talk, but a few did stop to chat.

Including Jeff Hock, 25, a registered Independent from Manchester. But Hock admits talking politics isn't his forte. And this primary he's struggled with just trying to keep up with all the candidates' names.

“When you go in Primary Day and look at the ballot – are there going to be a lot of names you don’t know?,” I asked him. “Probably. There’s probably going to be a lot of names I don’t know," Hock replied with a chuckle.

“Let me throw some at you. Ben Carson – ring a bell?,” I said. “I’ve seen that on a bus at the mall,” Hock replied. “Carly Fiorina?," I then asked. “I’ve seen Carly signs – I don’t know what they mean though. I’ve never heard of her, never listened to her,” he said. “Martin O’Malley?,” I then shot at him. “I know Martin – I’ve heard of Martin because I’ve had that guy knock on my door.” And lastly, “Rick Santorum?,” I asked. “I don’t know Rick,” Hock answered back.

Carol Despathy, 67, of Candia hasn't been able to attend any campaign events this Primary due to work.
Credit Paige Sutherland/NHPR

I next met Carol Despathy. She's 67-years-old and works down the street at Manchester Community College. She hasn't been able to see any of the candidates in person - she says her work hours keep her from being able to attend any events.  

And without that one-on-one interaction – the Republican says it’s been difficult for her to separate each candidate from the mix.  

“There’s so many, and so many qualities out there it is just hard for me to pick one. I’m hoping that will happen, like really soon,l" Despathy said laughing. "The best thing I can say right now is Republican, that is the most I can come up with right now," she chuckled.

But there’s one thing Despathy says she’s certain of come Primary day: “I’m not voting for Donald Trump,” she said. "You know you can’t be a bully – you have to be able to talk to people.  He says he can negotiate but in what manner?”

Jen Follansbee, 24, of Manchester is a school teacher in Concord. The registered Democrat says she's counting down the days until the Primary is over.
Credit Paige Sutherland/NHPR

Jen Follansbee, a school teacher in Concord, tries to tune out when national politics invades New Hampshire every four years, but most campaigns make that pretty difficult -- especially if you work out at Planet Fitness in Manchester where a political ad runs across one of the several TV screens every few minutes.  

But Follansbee, a registered Democrat, plans to still vote next Tuesday but says she's looking forward to next Wednesday more.

“It gets to the point where it’s annoying," she said laughing. "We still have how much longer until we have to vote, so we just have to wait and count down.”