Primary Day on the Streets of Manchester, N.H.
MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
And I'm Robert Siegel. With no returns to report on yet, the big story out of New Hampshire today is the weather. Temperatures were very high, and that's helping drive turnout. The secretary of state is expecting a record number of voters today.
NPR's Robert Smith went out to take the temperature of voters.
ROBERT SMITH: I'm here in the streets of downtown Manchester, New Hampshire, where voters are asking each other one very important question, can you believe that it's almost 60 degrees in the middle of January?
NORRIS: Beautiful. And we never get a weather like this. I mean, you can't even explain weather like this. It's phenomenal. I mean, it's, you don't get weather like this.
SMITH: Look at you, you're actually giddy. Is this going to make you go out and vote?
NORRIS: Yes, it is.
SMITH: Brian Richardson is actually walking to his polling place, it's so nice. I mean, sure, there are some unusual challenges to a balmy primary day - there are giant slush puddles in front of campaign offices, and the political signs in the snow banks keep tipping over. But the upside is it could be a massive voter turnout. Heck, on a day like this, you don't need a "get out the vote" strategy, you need a "tell people to get back inside" strategy.
Heather Hilton(ph) just came from casting a ballot.
NORRIS: I've been to two different voting places, and they're a lot more than it was a few years ago.
SMITH: The New Hampshire primary is usually an indoor sport. But today, downtown Manchester was like a political street fair. The fringe candidates, who will stand on street corners in subzero temperatures, actually have an audience now.
NORRIS: Yes, all politicians are vermin. And I am the Vermin Supreme. And that is why I am the most qualified candidate in this race at this time.
SMITH: As a candidate who likes to, you know, basically, take his campaign to the streets because that's really all you have, weather like this must be perfect, there's actual people out for you to harass?
NORRIS: Campaign to. Unfortunately, if it gets too warm, this whole global warming thing happens, I mean, there will be no snow banks to stick our signs in and that would be a damn shame.
SMITH: Some people have better things to do on a nice day than voting. I met Dana Millman(ph), who is out for a walk in short sleeves.
NORRIS: I'm a landscaper, so any day above 30 is beautiful.
SMITH: He just doesn't feel like waiting in line at a polling place today.
NORRIS: So, I'll let everybody else take care of that. And when the time comes, I'll make my decision then.
SMITH: You know, if I were to give your name to some of these campaigns, you would have 30 people showing up on your door this afternoon trying to get you out there.
NORRIS: I got that now. I have my - I got a security lock. I got people coming in. I don't even know how they do it.
SMITH: Actually, the time for door-knocking is over. The residential streets of Manchester were strangely quiet this afternoon. Raymond Curval(ph), an undecided voter, could finally emerge from his home.
NORRIS: I think we only got two calls today so far.
SMITH: Wow, it's like a vacation.
NORRIS: Yes, it is. Definitely.
SMITH: Sunny weather, no phone calls...
SMITH: ...you can just quietly make up your mind.
NORRIS: Yes, definitely.
SMITH: Curval says he still doesn't understand why everyone is paying so much attention to the vote in New Hampshire. He can barely pick a president for himself, he says, much less for the rest of the nation.
Robert Smith, NPR News, Manchester, New Hampshire.
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