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Voices from a Bellwether City: Rochester, N.H.


There are a few towns and cities across New Hampshire that -- time and again -- almost perfectly mirror how the state votes as a whole. Political junkies call a town like this a "bellwether." 

One of the state's most tried and true bellwether communities is the city of Rochester. 

For that reason, NHPR reporters headed to Rochester to ask folks there some big questions about what's on their minds and in their hearts  in the final days leading up to Election Day.

A group of friends in a church basement answered this one: "How do you feel about the state of our democracy?"

In the basement of First Church Congregational in Rochester, Linda Maynard, Judy Geyer, and Libby Feuer have lunch together every day. They talk about what's going on in town, in the state, in the country, the world. 

Credit Natasha Haverty
"I have concerns about a lot of unrest after this election. Regardless of who wins. Yesterday a man during the church service asked for prayers for the country that everything come out for the best, for the country. And that seemed right." - Judy Geyer, Rochester, N.H.

People outside the public library answered this one: "How do we fix the political process?"

"You hardly ever hear anybody say anything good about someone. You only hear someone kinda bad mouth somebody else to make themselves look better. It doesn't really help." - Joe Indelicatto, Rochester, N.H.

For lots of people shuffling in and out, some holding books, others DVDs, it’s much easier to diagnose the shortcomings that this current election has brought to the surface. Coming up with a single solution...that’s the hard part. 

Listen to patrons outside the library in Rochester.

High school kids responded to this one: "Fill in the blank: I'm feeling ____ about the 2016 election."

Credit Jason Moon for NHPR
Students at Spaulding High School in Rochester said they were disappointed in the 2016 presidential race.
Listen to students from Spaulding High School in Rochester.

At Spaulding High School, seniors can take an elective called "The History of American Presidents." 

“I’d say definitely, if you want to get younger kids to vote you should probably act more like adults. I think in this election, I don’t really feel like I’m watching any adult thing. I feel like I’m just sitting back watching a soap opera or something happening here in high school, where two people are just arguing with each other and saying they’re not going to be friends anymore. If we could make it feel like an election maybe we’ll actually vote.” - Charles Turcotte, Rochester, N.H.

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.
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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