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Voters Outside Democratic Debate Venue Range From Die-Hards to Undecided

Jason Moon for NHPR
Students gathered outside the debate venue to support Bernie Sanders.

Last night, all eyes were on the Democratic presidential contenders as they sparred in their final debate before the New Hampshire Primary. Voters who turned out to see them, at the University of New Hampshire, ranged from firmly decided to not yet sure.

On the street that led to UNH's Johnson Theatre’s stage, a crowd of about 200 students supporting Bernie Sanders waved signs and chanted the Vermont senator's name.

UNH student Steven Ciaramitaro was one of them.

“Mostly the free-education thing gets to me," Ciaramitaro said. "I know it’s not going to affect me now, but later on when I have a family of my own and I have children coming up, that’s definitely going to be helpful.”

The students were joined by a handful of issue-advocacy groups and the musicians known as the Leftist Marching Band. In the midst of all this, a food truck run by Ramone and Kristin Valdez doled out coffee and hot chocolate.

“We’re always here. This is our spot on campus," Valdez said. "We just lucked out that this happened here.”


One of the people who lined up, waiting to get inside on this chilly night, was  Joe Keefe of Rye.  And he didn’t expect to change his opinion tonight—he’s firmly decided for Hillary Clinton.

“I just think she’s the most prepared to be president, the most qualified," said Keefe. "I think she has realistic policies that have a chance of succeeding.”

Others, like Katy Solsky of Concord, are still undecided. She’s leaning towards Sanders, but she also really likes the idea of having a woman president.

“I think that would be really cool to see in my lifetime," said Solsky. "Please, someone give us a women president in my lifetime.”

Farther up the line, Alison and Chris Pyott are just about to enter the building. Chris has decided on Sanders, but his wife Alison says she’s torn.

“Well I love Bernie, I love everything he says," said Alison. "I think Hillary is amazing, I’m trying to love her, because she’s incredibly well qualified.”

Alison says the debate might help her decide. But she's not sure.

"I don’t come by any decision easily," said Alison. "Except marrying him!”

Jason Moon is a senior reporter and producer on the Document team. He has created longform narrative podcast series on topics ranging from unsolved murders, to presidential elections, to secret lists of police officers.
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