In New Hampshire, Enthusiasm Lags Among Female Voters Democrat Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire sailed into Congress with the 2006 Democratic tide and managed to stay afloat two years later. Now, pollsters are noting a noticeable "enthusiasm gap" among a core constituency for Shea-Porter and the Democrats: women.
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In N.H., Enthusiasm Lags Among Female Voters

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In N.H., Enthusiasm Lags Among Female Voters

In N.H., Enthusiasm Lags Among Female Voters

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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

Over the weekend, President Obama told an audience that if everybody who backed him in 2008 shows up to vote in 2010, Democrats could win. The trouble, of course, is getting them to show up. Consider the case of Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire. She won in 2006 and 2008, capturing that seat for the Democrats. But in 2010, Democrats may not be getting the boost they've received in the past couple of elections from women voters, among others. NPR's Audie Cornish reports.

AUDIE CORNISH: New Hampshire Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter was once a kind of Tea-Party style candidate for the left - a fired-up insurgent who took down a party-approved Democrat and a powerful Republican incumbent.

ANDREW SMITH: That's a good way of putting it. She was certainly a Move On candidate - the people that brought that energy and money to the Democratic Party in 2006 and 2008.

CORNISH: That's Andrew Smith, a pollster from the University of New Hampshire Survey Center.

SMITH: She certainly rode that wave into office. But this year, that Democratic wave has already crashed on the shore, and the Republican wave of anger against the Obama administration and general dissatisfaction with the state of the economy may be the wave that takes her out.

CORNISH: Of course, Shea-Porter has been the underdog before. At a recent house party in Hampstead for grassroots liberal activists, she said she agreed with this take by a prominent GOP blogger.

CAROL SHEA: And he said that - and I'm paraphrasing - but 30 percent of the people in New Hampshire would walk over their mother to vote against me. Thirty-two percent would walk over their mother to vote for me. And it would be a GOTV fist fight to get out the rest. And I think that's pretty accurate.

CORNISH: You can hear that in the voices of women like Tina Stoddard, a passport office clerk from Portsmouth.

TINA STODDARD: 2008 was all about Hillary. Yay. Women. Power. The whole nine. And I just I don't see a strong woman out there. Not that I'm watching closely enough, but I just don't see that person that's going to make me go, hey, I should probably pay attention a little bit more.

CORNISH: Stoddard spoke at a little diner called the Cafe Espresso. It's where then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton choked up when asked about how she kept going - or, as Stoddard says...

STODDARD: Had a breakdown.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

CORNISH: Across the room at a window-side booth, Republican Pamela Vangeystelen, an innkeeper, says Republicans are enjoying the rise of woman candidates like Kelly Ayotte, who is running for senator and has been endorsed by Sarah Palin.

PAMELA VANGEYSTELEN: I'm very excited, yes, because it's looking more and more like we're going to have more influence. And hopefully we can, you know, bring some tax rates down and some - and help the small businesses in the community. I mean...

CORNISH: Guinta, the former mayor of Manchester, is somewhat ahead in the polls. He's taking heat for campaign finance irregularities, in particular for failing initially to disclose a bank account holding up to $500,000. Guinta says he's focused on issues like the deficit, the economy and limited government.

FRANK GUINTA: I continue to focus on those things. She can try to tie me to whatever she wants, but the fact of the matter is she refuses to talk about the substantive issues and is attacking me because she feels that she's behind.

CORNISH: Audie Cornish, NPR News, the Capitol.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: This is NPR News.

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