By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — In Tuesday's presidential primary, the voters of Belknap County mimicked their counterparts across the state by endorsing Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders by overwhelming margins.
Trump carried all six wards in the city of Laconia and all 10 towns in Belknap County by wide margins, polling 5,510 votes, or 35.8 percent of all votes cast in the the Republican presidential primary, more than twice as many as the 2,464, or 16 percent, of his nearest rival John Kasich in Tuesday's vote.
Trump's share of the vote in Belknap County was the fourth largest among the 10 counties. He polled 38.9 percent in Rockingham County, 37.9 in Coos County and 37.4 percent in Sullivan County while topping the field in all 10 counties.
In Belknap County, Trump ran strongest in Barnstead with 41.7 percent, , Belmont with 41.6 percent and Gilmanton with 40.3 percent while winning 39.3 percent of the vote in Tilton, 37.9 percent in Alton and Sanbornton, 36.8 percent in New Hampton, 33.8 percent in Gilford, 32.7 percent in Laconia 31.2 percent in Meredith and 31.1 percent in Center Harbor.
Ted Cruz finished third behind Kasich with 2,020 votes while Jeb Bush with 1,741 votes, Marco Rubio with 1,435 votes and Chris Christie with 1,002 votes finished out of the money. No other candidate won 1,000 votes.
In the Democratic presidential primary, Sanders mirrored Trump's sweep, topping Hillary Clinton by convincing margins in every municipality to capture 6,005 votes, or 62.5 percent of the vote, to Clinton's 3,495, or 36.4 of the total. His share of the vote in Belknap County was the seventh highest among the 10 counties. Sanders won 70.3 percent of the vote in Cheshire County, 69.6 percent in Sullivan County, 66.9 percent in Grafton County, 63.8 percent in Strafford County and 63 percent in Carroll County
Sanders took Laconia with 1,339 votes to Clinton's 933, carrying all six wards. In the towns, Sanders' margins were two-to-one or better in Alton, Barnstead, Belmont and Sanbornton.
As of December there were 41,751 registered voters in Belknap County: 15,134 Republicans, 9,209 Democrats and 17,408 independents. A total of 24,889 votes were cast in the primary election, representing a turnout of 59.6 percent. There were 15,391 Republican and 9,598 Democratic ballots cast.
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