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Leaning heavily toward Democrats, Hopkinton and Concord turned a deeper blue in 2020

  • Hopkinton Poll Moderator Sara Persechino dicussing election turn out in Hopkinton even after 1,400 residents used absentee ballots to cast thier votes ALLIE ST PETER—Monitor Staff

  • Hopkinton Poll Moderator Sara Persechino (left) working the election in Hopkinton on November 3rd, 2020. ALLIE ST PETER—Monitor Staff

  • Ward 5 Clerk Nick Wallner dicussing election day on November 3rd, 2020 in Concord, a town that voted for Clinton in 2016. ALLIE ST PETER—Monitor Staff

  • ALLIE ST PETERMonitor Staff

Monitor staff
Published: 11/7/2020 2:14:23 PM

Madison Sorel has been exceptionally anxious lately. She hoped casting a vote for Democrat Joe Biden would calm those nerves.

“I feel like the democracy is falling apart, so I feel especially compelled to vote, and especially compelled to vote blue,” Sorel, 23, said after voting for every Democrat on the ticket in Hopkinton on Tuesday.

A decade ago, Hopkinton’s electorate was split evenly among Democrats, Republicans and Independents. But the town voted overwhelmingly for Hilary Clinton in 2016, with 58 percent of voters choosing the Democratic nominee. This year, the margins were even more lopsided. On Tuesday, 65 percent of voters in this town of 5,700 residents, chose Biden over Trump, solidifying its place as one of the most-Democrat leaning towns in New Hampshire.

It’s a growing town, known for good schools, where the median household income is about $90,000 and more than half the residents have a bachelor’s degree. It’s home to two of the state’s most popular Democrats – former Governor John Lynch, who served a record four terms in the corner office, and Annie Kuster, who was just re-elected to a fifth term in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Currently Hopkinton has 2,347 registered Democrats, 1,421 registered Republicans and 1,322 undeclared or independent voters. That electorate was out in full force on Tuesday, and that’s after more than 1,400 residents used absentee ballots.

Clarke Kidder, 77, is one of the town’s registered independent voters, but he chose all Democrat on Tuesday’s ballot, “for the first time in years,” he said.

“We just need a complete change,” Kidder said. “Someone once asked Franklin Roosevelt to do more of his fireside chats and he said no, he did enough of them, that people get tired of listening to the same note over and over. And I’m sick of the last four years of 24/7 hearing the same note that’s nothing but one person’s voice.”

Kidder and his wife, Judy, said they still feel the Republican presence in Hopkinton, and there were certainly Republicans casting ballots in the town on Tuesday. But Trump’s numbers slipped in both percentage of votes and total ballots cast between the two elections. In 2016, 1,427 voters chose Trump, about 37% of the vote. This year, 1,400 voters chose the President, but with more Democrats showing up to the polls this election, his portion of votes here fell to about one third.

One of those voters was Jo-Ann Peterson.

“It’s either Trump or the Manchurian Candidate who is going to be impeached within weeks of taking office and replaced by Kamala Harris,” Peterson said.

Peterson has lived in Hopkinton for 32 years and said she’s swayed between voting Democrat and Republican during that time. She’s leaned more red recently because she feels Democrats are going too far to the, “radical left.” She said she’s not always comfortable voicing her opinions in her home town.

“My husband and I do believe in free speech and stating your own opinions, but now being on the right, I can’t even talk about my opinions,” Peterson said. “This is the most I’ve said in ages because I’m taken down. The friends that I have that are on the left think that I’m an idiot. ‘So what, she has a doctorate, where did you get it, cereal box university?’ I had someone say that to me, and I think it’s a sad commentary when you can’t discuss different views, and it’s come to that.”

Like Hopkinton, Concord also voted heavily for Clinton in 2016 and the city still bleeds blue. In Ward 5, there are 1,964 registered Democrats, 772 Republicans and 1,231 undeclared. Ward clerk Nick Wallner, who has been helping organize elections in Concord for nearly 20 years, saw that electorate cast more than 1,100 absentee ballots and still flock to the Green Street Community Center on Tuesday to vote in person.

“Back in 2016 people most people thought that a certain candidate was shoe-in, so they didn’t come out in force, and now they’ve realized they want to make a change, so that particular party is coming out in full force,” Wallner said. “And the other party wants to make sure their candidate gets re-elected, so they’re coming out in full force. And the undeclared are probably going saying, ‘Yeah, maybe I can make a difference this time,’ so they’re coming out, too.”

This election, voters overwhelmingly chose Biden in Ward 5, with 75 percent picking the former Vice President. Biden’s share of the vote was more in Ward 5 than any other ward in Concord. The results were so lopsided, Ward 5 was one of top 10 voting places among 320 in New Hampshire where Biden had the largest percentage of the total vote.

Peter Crosby, 71, got an absentee ballot just in case, but he showed up in-person to vote at Green Street on Tuesday. He said he always votes, but he was extra committed to the process this year. He voted for some moderate Republicans in the past, but there was no doubt which way Crosby, or just about anyone else he knows, was voting this time.

“The condition of the country is appalling right now,” said Crosby, who voted for Democrats in every race on his ticket except for county attorney. “I was talking with my sister (who lives in Bow) and she said, ‘Oddly, I don’t know anybody who supports Trump or the Republicans,’ and I agreed, although clearly there are people out there who do.”

Andrew Leonard, 20, cast his first-ever presidential ballot at Green Street and used it to vote for Joe Biden. The Stanford University student said many initiatives on campus encouraged young people to vote and that most of them were “all on the same page about our feelings on how to vote.” He said he was excited to be part of the process.

“Given the state of the world I think it’s really important for us to vote,” Leonard said, “and especially in this election. I felt amped to have my voice heard.”

In Concord’s Ward 6, 65% of voters chose Biden.

“We had a line around the building and out the back for 45 minutes this morning,” said Ward 6 moderator Sarah Chaffee.

Amy Lesieur, 26, said she has noticed a definite uptick in political awareness and the desire to vote among her friends and family and even her employer – the Under Armour store in Tilton.

“Where I work shut down early today so that people could go vote, and my dad is voting in his first presidential election, so this feels like a big one,” said Lesieur, who voted for Biden. “It’s a scary time right now with the pandemic and civil unrest and everything that’s going on, and I think people are motivated because of the stakes.”

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