The first thing I noticed was poop on the floor. Dog poop. “I’m very sorry — they don’t usually do this!” Howard apologized, and promptly offered me a beer. Gripping my clipboard a little too tightly, I politely declined.
HAMPTON, N.H. — As Keri Lucas, a 32-year-old schoolteacher from Nottingham, N.H., trudged through the snow outside Winnacunnet High School here last Sunday night, she could barely contain her excitement.
Lucas and her boyfriend’s mother, Judy Barsosky, 66, another schoolteacher, drove for close to an hour for the privilege of standing in the damp cold outside this school for another hour as dusk settled over the seaside town of 14,000. Of course, they would be heading to work at their own schools the next morning.
But that night, they were here to see Senator Hillary Clinton LAW ‘73, their favorite candidate among those Democrats vying for the presidential nomination. The women were longtime residents of Massachusetts, where they watched the New Hampshire buzz from a state away every four years and enjoyed candidate visits — the perk of proximity — themselves. But last winter, they moved across the border, just in time for their first New Hampshire primary.
“This,” Lucas said, “is the state where you get to see everyone.”
NASHUA, N.H., 12:38 p.m. — Excitement is growing over a candidate who once didn’t seem to have an ice cube’s hope in hell of getting a vote in New Hampshire.
“A saying that a lot of Ron Paul supporters have,” says Pennsylvanian Ron Paul campaigner Jim McDaniel, “is that ‘Dr. Paul cured my apathy.’”
Paul’s support on Tuesday was unprecedented, as supporters mobbed the streets of Concord with signs and chants. Indeed, his presence was just as visible as any of the other candidates’ — particularly among the youth.
Says a BBC cameraman, “They’re absolutely everywhere. I’m fed up of Ron Paul signs.”
NASHUA, N.H., 11:42 a.m. — Typically, fourth graders are more interested in their Game Boys than the world of politics, but here in New Hampshire, even the young’uns get a chance to vote.
Virginia Drew, the Director of the Visitor’s Center at the Concord statehouse for more than twelve years, has pioneered a voting scheme which gives interested children the change to flex their political muscles in the voting booth.
“Fourth graders here in New Hampshire are very savvy,” she said in an interview Tuesday, “and so they came in and they cast their ballots today and yesterday — we allowed them to be first of the first in the nation.”
160 students cast ballots in the primary elections and, although the results are not officially released, “it’s always fun to see how close the kid’s results are to where the state’s are,” she said.
NEW HAVEN, Conn., 11:22 p.m. — In an interview with the pollster John Zogby, the comedian Jon Stewart is discussing on “The Daily Show” the failure of the polls in New Hampshire.
Zogby said the polls were proven wrong because so many voters did not decide for whom to vote until election day. Stewart asked him whether pollsters could have predicted that in advance. Zogby replied that while only a few percent of people polled said they were “undecided,” many were only “soft” supporters of Obama or Clinton, and that should have been a sign that the race was far from over.
Zogby said that point might not have been stressed enough to the media when the polls were announced over the past few days.
“Do the numbers just come in and [journalists] just go, ’41 – 28, my God!’?” Stewart asked incredulously.
The crowd laughed, and the interview moved on. But, Stewart was right! For better or for worse, that’s exactly how it happens.
NEW HAVEN, Conn., 2:31 p.m. — In New Hampshire, Senator Barack Obama seemed to be the darling of students, who flocked to his rallies and cheered for him as if he were a rock star. To young people, he was supposed to be a candidate who represented a new generation of politics, a voice for change standing up for them in a way no other candidate could, or wanted to.
And, sure enough, young people in the Granite State turned out en masse for Obama yesterday. But an analysis of exit polls reveals that while Obama indisputably dominated New Hampshire’s youth vote, he captured significantly less of it then he did in Iowa. And as Senator Hillary Clinton LAW ’73 enjoyed heavy support from women across the state, a much larger demographic, there went the primary.
NASHUA, N.H., 1:45 p.m. — Indeed, Arizona Senator John McCain’s campaign still has the Vietnam War feel.
Middle-aged men in trenchcoats and sneakers cruise the peripheries. Old CIA types and red-tie, blue-suit Republicans squeeze through the crowd. Even the Crowne Plaza hotel, where his victory rally was held last night, seemed to cling to the retro aesthetic.
But despite such relics, the atmosphere felt more like a Saturday night at Toad’s Place when “Don’t Stop Believing” blared out across the crowd: dancing, drinking beer, chanting. Some of the young girls even had something of the Q-Pac facial aesthetic, although they were rather more soberly dressed. Alcohol was carted in by the crate-load.
The press looked more than flummoxed.
Sitting in the hotel café at half-past-eight, waiting for McCain to appear, most reporters seemed depressed that they could not join the party. Instead, they were resolved to sit in place, fiddling with their high-tech cameras, frowning.
John McCain had won. Even before it was announced, they all new it. People jumped and danced to the White Stripes in the ballroom. Vietnam veterans congratulated one another over the cubicles in the bathroom. Young couples held hands — all an hour before McCain even appeared.
NASHUA, N.H., 1:30 p.m. — Vermin Supreme has been described by some as “obnoxious.” But, he told the News in an interview last night, this year, he had a warm reception here in New Hampshire.Speaking after John McCain’s victory speech last night, where he ascended the stage after the 71-year-old candidate disappeared, he invited the crowd to “the Wal-Mart parking lot.””It’ll be a lot of fun, all the campaign buses will be there, monster trucks, nitro-fuelled funny cars, it’s gonna be great,” he said. “I hope you’ll be there. My bus will be the one with the flames and the skulls all over it.”More after the jump. (more…)
NASHUA, N.H., 1 a.m. — In a stunning reversal of fortunes, New York Senator Hillary Clinton LAW ’73 overcame Illinois Senator Barack Obama to win the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, re-establishing herself at the top of the Democratic field and dealing a devastating blow to Obama’s surging campaign.
BOSTON, Mass., 12:49 a.m. — 1) Did primaries always get so much media attention? Granted, I was a clueless high school senior last time ’round, but this amount of scrutiny just seems insane. Yesterday I watched Access Hollywood’s sultry Maria Menounos ask Hillary Clinton how she would spend a free Saturday night. Hillary’s response and – yes – this is a direct quote: “Usually I do some kind of cleaning activity. I find cleaning closets and drawers to be extremely gratifying. . .” Uh, I just don’t even know what to do with that.
2) Polls remind me of weather forecasts. People put so much stock in them and don’t shut up about them. When a friend says on Tuesday, “We shouldn’t plan on that beach trip this weekend because weather.com says there is a 64 percent change of precipitation,” when Friday rolls around, without fail, it will be gorgeous outside and you will be angry. Polls are like this. When they announced Hillary won, I said to my parents, “Uh, didn’t every poll say Obama was going to win?” There was no response.
3) Oration matters. Since all the speeches are essentially the same (riffs on change and young people and passion), the good speakers definitely stand out from the ones that put you to sleep. I am pretty sure that if I were a candidate, I would work on public speaking twice as much as any sort of policy. This is also why I would be a terrible politician. (Side note: I am totally going to institute a new drinking game in which you take a shot every time a politician says “change” or smiles like the Cheshire Cat.)
4) I noticed lots of young’uns taking camera phone pix of politicians at speeches. At first I found this strangely unsettling, but I think it is indicative of the fervor I have noticed among young people when it comes to this campaign. Politicians are the new rock stars. Zac Efron posters are being torn down for Obama pennants. And while “Kim is f-e-r-g-a-l-i-c-i-o-u-s” used to be a hip Facebook status, “Kim is YOU ROCKED IT, HIL!” has supplanted it. Kids are excited about politics. I am using words like “caucus” and “huckabee” and “iraq” in my gchats. For a notoriously politically apathetic generation, this is positive. As [INSERT YOUR FAVORITE POLTICIAN HERE] would say, “Change is good.”
NASHUA, N.H. — Welcome to primary night in the Granite State. We are live from Nashua South High School, where Senator Barack Obama will speak tonight to supporters after the results from today’s primary come in. Our live blog is below.
OBAMA CONCEDES; CLINTON WINS NEW HAMPSHIRE
12:22 a.m. | We’re signing off. This place is still in shock.
11:06 p.m. | Clinton is giving her victory speech, but the sound doesn’t work here in the press room and no Obama staff can be found. Reporters are cursing, absolutely livid.
11:01 p.m. | In front of a screaming, clapping, chanting crowd, Obama congratulates Clinton but vows to fight on for change. Because he loves change! But beneath the deafening cheers, cheers that were supposed to convince a national television audience that Obama had not lost his momentum, was an palpable, paralyzing shock. Even as they clapped wildly, the faces of Obama’s supporters were empty.
In a final bit of painful irony, the rally ended, as most of Obama’s do, with Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.”
An Obama victory in New Hampshire was supposed to be exactly that.
10:42 p.m. | U.S. Rep. Paul Hodes, D-New Hampshire, is firing up the crowd before Obama speaks. “We stand together for hope. We stand together for change,” he said.
10:34 p.m. | THE AP PROJECTS CLINTON WILL WIN NEW HAMPSHIRE. The room here is silent, with all eyes fixed on CNN. In the next room, the crowd at the Obama rally is chanting, and I feel pity for them.
10:28 p.m. | “It could be a very long night,” says Wolf Blitzer on CNN. Who probably is not starving to death right now. And who probably is in a climate-controlled studio, not in a drafty gym.
10:27 p.m. | Edwards concedes to Obama and Clinton. “The goal is still in sight,” Elizabeth Edwards says. John says he will stay in until the convention, as we reported earlier this week.
10:20 p.m. | Obama is still at his hotel, his campaign says. The big question here is how the college towns will factor in when they report. They could tilt the scale toward Obama, his campaign seems to think.
10:13 p.m. | With 62 percent of precincts reporting, Clinton is up by three points.
10:03 p.m. | What if this is like Florida in 2000 and we’re here all night? I ask because, well, I am really hungry. They need to feed us! How can they keep us here and not feed us? At least if I were inside the rally, I could feast (my eyes) on the beautiful “Change” signage. Here in the barren press room, I feast on nothing.
9:57 p.m. | Weird. On the left screen is MSNBC, with no sound. On the right is the Obama rally. And over the speakers is the unmistakable voice of CNN’s Anderson Cooper ’89. Are they trying to confuse us?
9:56 p.m. | They just killed the sound on MSNBC in the press room. It’s bad enough they’re making the crowd at the rally listen to the Counting Crows. Why do we have to listen to it, too?
9:55 p.m. | 54 percent reporting; Clinton up by two points.
9:37 p.m. | Oh no! There is a 2005 Buick LaCrosse parked illegally here. It must be moved “immediately,” the loudspeaker booms. Where is our security? Stop having your dogs sniff my digital camera, Secret Service, and secure our perimeter!
9:35 p.m. | John McCain is getting destroyed over his soporific acceptance speech. That was so bizarre. We saw him speak two days ago in Salem, N.H., and he was fiery and alive as can be. Tonight, he looked senile.
9:32 p.m. | Exit polls show that of voters who decided for whom to vote in the last three days, the divide went 50-50 between Hillary and Obama. So much for Obama’s momentum, MSNBC says.
9:25 p.m. | The crowd keeps randomly bursting out in concerted cheers of “Obama! Obama! Obama!” here in Nashua, as if on command. Why? I don’t know. Do they need to practice chanting the word “Obama”? Quoth Allen Iverson: “Practice? We’re talking ’bout practice?”
9:21 p.m. | With 39 percent reporting, Obama has drawn within 3 percent — about 2,800 votes.
9:15 p.m. | With 34 percent reporting, Clinton still clings to a four-point lead.
9:14 p.m. | The media room here is a very odd place to be right now. The Obama rally is nowhere near ready to begin, and none of us have anything to do except watch MSNBC (and then post on our blogs whatever they report).
9:13 p.m. | McCain is delivering his victory speech right now. “Mac is back!” How cute. Somewhere, Senator Joe Lieberman ’64 LAW ’67 is smiling.
8:59 p.m. | Huckabee is conceding now. For his campaign, however, third place is not bad news in the slightest. “Frankly, we’re pretty happy with that,” Huckabee said.
8:56 p.m. | “It is good news, and we’ve been having good news for the past three days in New Hampshire,” Clinton adviser Ann Lewis said on MSNBC. “She’s talking to people about the difference between talk and action.”
8:55 p.m. | With 23 percent reporting, Clinton’s lead is up to six points.
8:50 p.m. | With 21 percent reporting, Clinton’s lead has shrunken slightly to four points.
8:47 p.m. | Mitt Romney has conceded the primary to McCain. He prefers to look at his devastating loss as a “silver medal.”
8:29 p.m. | With 13 percent reporting, Clinton has opened up a five-point lead on Obama.
8:25 p.m. | Remember when, this summer, everyone thought McCain was finished? When reporters confronted him and demanded to know when he planned to drop out? How things change!
8:18 p.m. | I wonder if the Secret Service would allow pizza delivery to the press filing room. Would the bomb-sniffing dog have to inspect it? And, if yes, am I hungry enough to eat pizza covered in bomb-sniffing dog slobber?
8:15 p.m. | CNN also projects that McCain will win the primary. The network also projects that former Senator John Edwards will finish in third place among the Democratic contenders.
8:12 p.m. | NBC News has projected that Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, will win the New Hampshire primary.
8:05 p.m. | Connecticut Senator Christopher J. Dodd — who dropped out of the presidential race last week — has received 22 votes. Yet, he still trails fellow dropout Joe Biden, with 54 votes. Some people just can’t win.
8:04 p.m. | With 11 percent of precincts reporting, Hillary Clinton LAW ’73 leads Barack Obama, 38 percent to 36 percent, according to The Associated Press. For the Republicans, John McCain has a nine-point lead over Mitt Romney.
8:01 p.m. | “So, it is not over … We don’t have any answers yet … It’s too close to call,” Keith Olbermann just said on MSNBC. Patience, grasshopper. The polls have been closed for all of 30 seconds.
8:00 p.m. | Polling places across New Hampshire close.
7:10 p.m. | Unlike the filing center at the debates Saturday night, the last time this many members of the news media gathered in one place, there is no food to be found here at the Obama HQ. There was, briefly, a few cases of bottled water, but those are long gone. I also see one empty package of Cheez-Its, its 12 individual packets nowhere to be found.
6:58 p.m. | The set-up for the rally itself is similar in style to that of Senator Hillary Clinton’s rally last night in Manchester — in other words, it is impressive. But we’re not actually in that room. In an adjacent gymnasium, the more than 300 reporters on hand will watch the rally via a large projection screen. Well, not a screen — the image is just projected onto the all of the gym. We also have a second projector displaying MSNBC’s coverage of the returns.
WEST CALDWELL, N.J., 9:36 p.m. — With about 2,000 votes separating Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton LAW ’73, CNN’s Anderson Cooper ’89 just raised the fact that the approximately 6,000 votes of Hanover, N.H. — the city that houses Dartmouth College, which is in session today — have not yet been counted. That’s more votes than the Clinton campaign expected to be casted today in the college town.
Dartmouth students, meanwhile, are expected to support Obama by a large margin.
In other words, if the Illinois Senator pulls through tonight, he may have Dartmouth’s quarter calendar to thank!