MANCHESTER, N.H.—Residents of New Hampshire cast last-minute ballots Tuesday in a primary election expected to narrow the field of presidential candidates.
Voters braved snowy conditions and waited in long lines at polling stations across the state, turning out in what are expected to be record numbers.
«I voted for Donald Trump because the economy is so bad and I think he could probably be the best man to help,» said Roberta Latour from Merrimack.
Oscar Villacis is a Clinton supporter from Nashua. «My heart was telling me Bernie Sanders, but my mind was telling me Hillary Clinton,» he said.
Sanders, Trump expected to win
Sanders, an independent senator from the neighboring state of Vermont, is widely expected to come out ahead of ex-secretary of state Clinton in New Hampshire in the Democratic Party primary.
The Democratic socialist Sanders still trails Clinton in most national polls, but has been steadily gaining ground on her in recent days.
On the Republican side, the billionaire Trump has for months enjoyed a double-digit lead over his rivals, and is expected to secure his first victory of the primary campaign.
Trump must win the state by at least 10 percentage points to secure his frontrunner status, says prominent Republican pollster Frank Luntz.
«When you consider all the negative comments that are made about him, all the attacks — if he can survive it, and beat all these guys by 10 points or more, then he’s clearly the frontrunner,» Luntz told VOA.
«If he doesn’t get 10 points or more, it says that we’ve got to take a look at the polling for accuracy, or we’ve got to take a look at his campaign,» he added.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton meets with customers as she stops at Dunkin’ Donuts during the first-in-the-nation presidential primary, Feb. 9, 2016, in Nashua, N.H.
Trump finished a disappointing second to Texas Senator Ted Cruz in last week’s first-in-the-nation nominating contest in Iowa, where voting takes place in local caucus meetings.
Race for second
One of the big questions is who will finish second in the GOP field. Several Republican candidates have staked their entire campaign on doing well in the state.
Donald Trump eats breakfast at the Airport Diner in Manchester, NH on the morning of the primary, Feb. 6, 2016. (Photo: K. Gypson/VOA)
Among those who have the most to lose by a poor performance are ex-Florida governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Ohio Governor John Kasich.
The situation is particularly dire for Kasich if he cannot perform well in New Hampshire, according to Joe Bafumi, a professor at local Dartmouth College.
«He didn’t do well in Iowa,» he said. «He didn’t even contest it. And he doesn’t have anything in place in any other state — no advertising, no grassroots.»
All polls are scheduled to close at 8:00 p.m. local time. Results are expected to start trickling in a short time later.