First and Last in New Hampshire

Dixville Notch, N.H., opens its polls at midnight on election morning, making it among the first places in the state to cast and count votes for candidates in their presidential primary. Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter drove to Dixville on a rumor, but met with some distressing news there.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

Residents of Dixville Notch, New Hampshire are proud to be the first people to vote in the first state to cast votes. The polls open at midnight in Dixville Notch. The whole town, which has 74 residents, lines up for the vote. Those first votes are often widely reported during prime morning news hours.

So when Duncan Hunter, the California congressman running for president on the Republican primaries, was told that someone in town planned to vote for him, Mr. Hunter decided to travel 170 miles north, from Manchester to Dixville Notch, to shake hands with his supporter.

Mr. Hunter's supporter is married. He and his wife have a young child, but they don't always vote the same way. The couple flipped a coin to decide who would vote and who would babysit. The Hunter-voter husband lost and stayed home. He tried phoning the congressman in his car, but cell service in the White Mountains is spotty.

He showed up at midnight only to learn that none of the 17 votes cast was for him. John McCain finished first among Republicans with four votes; Barack Obama won with seven on the Democratic side. Congressman Hunter drove all the way back to Manchester and reflected on the tidal wave that might have been set off had he won a vote in Dixville Notch. Imagine how today would have gone, he reportedly told people sitting nearby at a diner where he stopped for breakfast, decided by a coin toss the story of my career.

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