By Eesha Pendharkar and Charles Borsos
BU News Service
New Hampshire was too close to call when the candidates addressed their supporters Tuesday night.
The atmosphere in Grappone Center in Concord, New Hampshire on Election night could only be described as jubilant when republican incumbent Senator Kelly Ayotte addressed her supporters. The night started on a doubtful note for the roomful of republicans with democratic candidate Gov. Maggie Hassan leading in polls when the initial counting in New Hampshire started. As the night moved along, Ayotte’s surged ahead in the polls tightened and with 66 percent votes being reported, she managed to maintain her steady 2 percent point lead over the democratic candidate.
“How do you feel about a republican senate?” New Hampshire GOP chair Jennifer Horn asked a cheering crowd. Horn addressed the public three times throughout the night, ensuring them that things for the republicans were looking good and urging the crowd to be patient. The wait for Ayotte has been a long one but her supporters’ spirits do not seem dampened as the grappone center has been attracting increasing amounts of people throughout the night.
Horn praised Ayotte’s work as a senator before inviting her on stage.
“Kelly promised she was going to be an independent voice for our state,” said Horn. “Kelly has laid out a vision for an optimistic future. She is the best we can hope for from a politician.”
Ayotte came on stage and thanked the crowd for their support after midnight.
“We’re confident, but we want to do this the New Hampshire way,” she said, urging her supporters to remain patient.
Meanwhile at the Puritan in Manchester, New Hampshire, Hassan announced a narrow lead over Kelly Ayotte as the night wore on. A Democratic Party source said after the speech that the voting data that they had collected was more complete than that of the Associated Press, and showed Hassan with a narrow lead of 5,000 votes as the count continued into the morning.
The same source also stated that their data on the presidential race in New Hampshire maintained a narrow lead for Clinton over Trump as well. Final results are expected Wednesday morning.
Hassan delivered her speech to a crowd that had largely gone home. The crowd was initially excited when the first districts gave Hassan an early lead in the night, once it tipped in Ayotte’s favor, the energy slowly deflated as the night continued hour by hour.
New Hampshire Executive Councilman Chris Pappas made the first speech of the night and said, “there are still ballots to count” around 10p.m., but the energy level in the room had clearly fallen and was down for a long time. As one of the final races yet to be called, the Hassan race remains undecided after a series of defeats seen this election by the Democratic Party up and down the New Hampshire ballot.
Arizona Gray, a Trump supporter, said in the morning that “polls were ‘bullsh–.” He harked back to polling during Reagan’s election in 1980 that favored Carter, and said that it was the“silent majority” who elected Richard Nixon. Gray walked down the street after voting this morning with a lit cigar in his mouth, a cowboy hat on his head, and a red white and blue suit on his back.
Clinton had been polling ahead of Trump in the state, but lost on Tuesday. However, Ayotte polled favorably going into the election and turned that into a victory.
Boston College student Matt Sanborn expressed as early as 10 p.m. some worry for the election. He had campaigned heavily in New Hampshire for Clinton and Hassan and said he was “concerned about the division in the United States” and “confused” as to what was happening.
As Tuesday night carried into Wednesday morning, the crowd thinned and the atmosphere dropped further. Joan and Dan Collision of Hanover said it was “not over till it’s over” but decided to pack it in for the night. Joan said they were “really disappointed” to leave without seeing Hassan. Joan continued, “We’d like to thank her for a job well done”
Whether they voted for Clinton or Trump, Hassan or Ayotte, the people of New Hampshire voted in record numbers. Head moderator at the Beech Street School polling place, Gail Athas, said they ran out of “I voted” stickers at about 9 a.m. When they called city hall, they were told the whole city’s stock had run dry. Tim and Liz-Anne Platt thought the race was over before Hassan spoke and went home “Cautiously optimistic” and “hoping for the best”