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The Burn Of Unemployment Still Stings New Hampshire

JOSH ROGERS, BYLINE: I'm Josh Rogers in Concord, New Hampshire. Pretty much every poll in this race shows the Granite State as a tossup. Economic issues tend to dominate here, and even though New Hampshire has weathered the recession relatively well - unemployment stands at just 5.2 percent - you wouldn't know it by talking to voters at Manchester's Red Arrow Diner.

NEAL POITRAS: I ran into a tough situation where I actually bought a house five years ago and I just recently sold it for a $46,000 loss.

ROGERS: Thirty-five-year old Neal Poitras says he's and his two-year old son are back living with his parents. Poitras, a bottling plant worker, says he voted Obama in 2008 and probably will again.

POITRAS: He kind of started out with the chips down. It'd be nice to see if some of his plans will work, but sometime you can't fix it with a snap of the fingers.

ROGERS: Poitras is just the sort of blue collar voter Mitt Romney is hoping will vote Republican, a notion Poitras quickly dismissed.

POITRAS: Just because he's good with money doesn't mean he's going to be good with our money. He's good with his.

ROGERS: A few tables over, the reaction to Mitt Romney was a bit different.

DAVE WALDMAN: What the country really, really, needs right now is a businessman.

ROGERS: Dave Waldman, a self-employed videographer, says he's scared by the growth of government under President Obama. He says that fear makes it easier to look past his differences with Mitt Romney.

WALDMAN: I don't agree with the republican ticket on abortion and on gay rights and those issues, but those aren't the issues that are in the forefront.

ROGERS: Sitting next Waldman was Dana Wallace, an accountant and registered independent who says he's angry that partisan gridlock has made it difficult to fairly judge the president's policies. He supported Mr. Obama in 2008. As for whether he's now better off...

DANA WALLACE: Four years ago I was unemployed. I was unemployed because the economy tanked. So, am I better off? Yes, because I'm making a living for myself. It's not quite as good as I was before but I'm independent and making it.

ROGERS: Wallace said by that test he'll be voting to give the president another term. If Mr. Obama is going to win here he'll need more independents to make the same call. For NPR News, I'm Josh Rogers in Concord, New Hampshire. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Josh Rogers, New Hampshire Public Radio