MANCHESTER, N.H. — Even though New Hampshire voters cast their primary ballots Tuesday, a new poll by WMUR-TV and the University of New Hampshire shows that 56 percent of them haven’t made up their minds about what candidate they’ll choose. That widespread indecision is very apparent when you randomly sample voters in New Hampshire, as we did Monday morning in Manchester at a breakfast-and-lunch spot called Julien’s Corner Kitchen.
While chef-owner Julien Pepin manned the grill in the kitchen, his customers talked politics with us. Among the dozen or so people we spoke with were John and Lisa Marinos, who live in Auburn, N.H., and are still undecided about their votes.
“I think I’ve lost confidence, just our own personal situation. I just don’t feel as though the economy is going to get much better anytime soon,” Lisa Marinos said. “I mean, we’ve lost most of our retirement. I just feel as though — almost hopeless. We tried to even refinance our properties. We have excellent credit. We can’t even refinance. So we’re stuck at 6.25 percent.”
She says they’ve also lost their health insurance in the past few years and gotten socked with higher property taxes. John Marinos says that’s left him feeling that little people — like him and his wife, who own a cleaning company and rental properties — have no representation.
“I just feel very disconnected,” John Marinos said. “I don’t think it matters who gets in. I think it’s going to be politics as usual. My 9-year-old was asking who we’re gonna vote, and I said, ‘Well of course we’re gonna vote.’ I don’t even know if I’m going to vote, because, you know something, I don’t think it matters.”
Bill Stergios is a lifelong New Hampshire resident who says he had been leaning toward Mitt Romney until last week. That’s when he was watching Fox News and a host posed a question that changed his mind.
“Do you feel like whoever you elect, nothing’s gonna change? And I’m like, ‘Yeah!’ ” Stergios recounted. “And he goes on and on, like 20 different things about how Washington is always the same and we’re just heading towards a cliff. And I’m going, ‘Yeah, yeah, that’s just how I feel.’ I just want to send a message to the establishment — and I mean all of them — that I’m fed up.”
From the middle-aged and older, like Stergios, down to much younger voters, that discontent seems to span the generations. Even 21-year-old Ben Andwood is feeling it. He’s a bus boy at Julien’s who’s met several candidates when they’ve come into the restaurant.
“I just don’t trust politicians in general,” Andwood reflected. “Every politician has to come from some sort of wealth. That causes a bias, to who they care about and what they hold sacred.”
Carolyn Shost and Sally Corcoran were talking about their frustration with Washington — and with how to vote — when we approached their table.
“We were just sitting here talking about entitlements,” Corcoran said. “There’s so much of it, so much government…”
“Interference,” Shost added.
“Who’s going to really bring us to the forefront and save us?” Corcoran questioned.
“They’re all idiots,” Shost said.
“Career politicians,” Corcoran added.
“I mean, you sit there and they pass a bill and you have to wait ’til the bill is in effect to find out how much pork barreling is in there,” Shost said.
Asked if they would vote Tuesday, Shost replied, “I’m 65, and for first the time in my life since I was 21, I say it’s a waste of time. But, you know, if you don’t vote, you can’t complain.”
The waitress on duty, Sharon Healy, said she’s also still on the fence about which candidate will get her vote. But she has made up her mind about one thing.
“Obama needs to go away, he does,” Healy said. Asked why, Healy cited the “mess” in which the country finds itself. But, she said, she doesn’t hold President Obama responsible for that.
“I hold Bush and the ones before that responsible,” Healy said.
Then, from a nearby table, a voice said, “Whoa, whoa, whoa!” It was Vince Cavalli, a customer who didn’t want to let Obama off easily.
“I don’t think it’s just Bush. Obama did health care — did he?” Cavalli said. “It’s not just the president. Look what they did last year! I mean, they crippled this country, playing these politic games. We lost our ratings, we lost all of this stuff because, oh, we’re gonna stand here and stomp our feet, what are they gonna do next? Throw themselves on the floor and take off their clothes and start screaming? You know, like a kid throwing a tantrum in Wal-Mart? I sit here and watch all these guys talk, and I’m like — I laugh! You know, you guys are so far removed from reality in life.”