(Manchester, New Hampshire)
It's hardly a winter day as polls open in New Hampshire. Its sunny and the forecast high is 57 in Manchester. With competitive races in both parties, and huge voter interest, the great weather may just add to what could be a record voter turnout. As an added incentive, 40% of voters in the Granite State are Independents.
That voting block is crucial. In pre-voting day polling, more Republicans were inclined to vote for former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) than they were for for Sen. John McCain, (R-AZ). However, when you add in the Independents, McCain surges into the lead.
Sen. Barack Obama, (D-IL) is also benefiting from independents. At a rally Sunday he asked how many people were still undecided, I saw about 1/3rd of the crowd raise its hands. In other words, many went to see Obama, perhaps to see if he could convince them to vote for him.
Since both races could be very close, the Independents hold the key.
Both leading Democrats held raucus late-night rallies Monday night. After a couple of "flat" performances and turnouts, thousands filed into a hanger near the Manchester Airport, to see Sen. Hillary Clinton, (D-NY). She was joined by her husband Bill and daughter Chelsea. The crowd went wild, in some respects more for the former President, than the current Clinton White House seeker.
When Sen. Clinton talked about the qualities needed in the next President she started to respond, "I know what it will take...." and suddenly a man yelled in the then quiet crowd, "A woman!" The audience erupted in raucus cheers!
As wild as her final rally was, she is still hard pressed to equal the entusiams of Barack Obama's rallies. He held the final event of the day, in the gym at Concord High School. Thousands packed the place, and they were anything but quiet.
Obama entered to the blaring sounds of James Brown's "Living in America." The building was shaking! Obama spoke of his success in Iowa, which he was hoping to translate to a New Hampshire victory.
“We can come togther as Democrats, Independents and Republicans.Cast aside the same old polarizing politics of the past.” The Illinois Senator noted that young people in Iowa voted in the same percentages as senior citizens. Historically in America, older folks turn out at the highest rate, teens and 20's at the lowest rate. If this new trend continues, Obama could ride the wave to the White House!
Polls close in New Hampshire at 8 Eastern time, 5 Pacific. Look for results shortly thereafter. I will be at the winner's rallies.
Join me with Ross McGowan on "Mornings on Two" tomorrow at 7:40am, and Ronn Owens on KGO Radio-AM 810 at 9am.