The words “Donald Trump” might not have appeared on any ballots filled out yesterday, but the president’s name was on the minds of many of voters who came to polls in historic numbers for a mid-term election that had the feel of a presidential contest.
Judy Hebblethwaite of Belmont said she used to go back and forth between the two parties — that was, until 2016.
“I waffled for a while until Trump got in, and I back him 100 percent,” she said. Yesterday, she cast a straight Republican ballot. “I don’t know how he stands all the rhetoric he gets, but, God bless him, he does.”
Nicole, a Gilmanton resident who chose not to give her last name, said she was a registered Democrat, “but I am voting Republican this time. I stand with Trump this time.”
Trump also motivated voters in the opposite direction. Denise Betourne of Gilmanton said she selected a straight Democratic ticket. “I do not like the president at all. I want Democrats to take back the House,” she said.
“I’m going to be voting for Democratic candidates,” Tom Howe said as he headed to vote at the Gilmanton Academy building on Tuesday morning. “I think my first and foremost motivation is to make a statement against Trump. I think we need a president who has integrity, I don’t think he has integrity, I don’t think he has the intelligence to be the president. He doesn’t have a grasp of the interconnectedness of the world these days.”
Ellie Gurney and Ronald Douville, who had been in Maine, drove an hour and a half through the rain on Tuesday so that they could cast their vote in Gilford. Douville said he usually votes for the Libertarian candidate, but this time filled in his ballot for Republicans.
“I thought that this one was too important,” he said.
Gurney also voted for Republicans. “I believe in Trump and what he’s doing, strongly,” she said. She likes his emphasis on securing national borders, and, “It’s the economy, too. Look at what he’s doing for our economy, for our country.”
But not all voters went straight ticket, or were voting to send a message of support for or criticism of the Trump administration.
One voter, who didn’t want to be named, said he voted for mostly Republicans, but, “I crossed over on state rep. I don’t like Sylvia or French because I don’t like their stance on Gunstock.” Both representatives have expressed doubt as to whether Belknap County should continue operating Gunstock Mountain Resort.
Tim Brunelle, a Belmont voter, said he voted Republican, “Just keeping on with how we are going with the economy.”
In Gilmanton, Christine Keefe said she was planning to vote “straight Republican.… We’ve got to get back to the point where people have some say in their lives.”
Keefe said she hoped a Republican-led government could quash what she said was rampant illegal voting. When asked why there no evidence of such, she said it was because the Justice Department was covering it up. “And we know the Justice Department is led by the biggest bunch of crooks there is,” she said.
Matt Perron, a Gilford voter, chose all Democrats, because he said Republicans favor the wealthy. “Not that I’m in love with any particular party, I think that Democratic policy is better for minorities, people of color, and the LGBTQ community.”