Primary fatigue in New Hampshire

Adam Riglian


That’s what pollsters hear when they call Doug Verbeck’s house in New Hampshire.

Verbeck, who moved from Weymouth to Amherst, N.H., 35 years ago, says that when the pollsters call, he hangs up. He also is no fan of the endless radio and television ads that bombard Granite State residents in the final days leading up to the first-in-the-nation primary.

‘‘I know it’s a necessary evil, but it gets earlier and earlier all the time,’’ Verbeck said of the campaigning. ‘‘They want to dominate every spare minute on television.’’

More than a year’s worth of campaigning ends Tuesday night after the final votes are tallied, and, as always, the pace has been frantic in the final days. The candidates have been going full-tilt, with debates and nonstop campaigning, and the airwaves are filled with last-minute attack ads.

New Hampshire voters are accustomed to the campaign onslaught and to being personally courted by the candidates, whether it’s shaking hands with Arizona Sen. John McCain’s, hearing Illinois Sen. Barack Obama speak or sharing a coffee in a diner with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. It’s an up-front view of the candidates that people in Massachusetts and in most other states rarely get. The Bay State’s Feb. 5 primary is mostly ignored by the candidates, who concentrate on states with larger numbers of electoral votes at stake.

‘‘I think they enjoy the attention and I think they’ve now gotten used to their claim as the first-in-the-nation primary,’’ Paul Watanabe of Weymouth, a political science professor at University of Massachusetts-Boston, said of New Hampshire residents. ‘‘They’re certainly reluctant to give it up.’’

Phyllis Kennedy, who grew up in Canton and now lives in Exeter, N.H., likes all the attention that New Hampshire gets from the candidates. She is looking forward to seeing McCain in person before Tuesday’s vote. Kennedy thinks the chance to meet and greet the candidates is worth the ad overload.

‘‘It’s great. I love it,’’ Kennedy said. ‘‘It’s wonderful to be able to see them whenever you want. They’re here so often, there are lots of opportunities to meet the candidates.’’

Adam Riglian may be reached at

The Patriot Ledger