EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

November 4, 2012

Undecided voters worried about economy, turned off by negativity

Donna Watts, of Derry, N.H., said she and President Obama “have the same values” on many issues. She’s pro-choice and likes his stances on women’s issues. Her brothers are in a labor union. She seems like she would be a vote Obama could count on in a swing state with four electoral votes up for grabs.

But earlier this year, her bookstore, Gardenia’s on Birch Street, closed. She was worried about the economy, and its weakness led to second thoughts about voting to re-elect the president.

“I’m hesitant because of my experience in the last four years,” she said.

For Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee for president, closing the deal with the few remaining voters like Watts will be key to winning a tight and hard-fought election Tuesday.

Watts, who lived in Massachusetts when Romney was governor, remembered a stronger economy and thought his business experience may help nationally. “I won’t know until I go into the voting booth,” she said, repeating that she definitely intends to vote.

Several races in Massachusetts and New Hampshire are expected to be close on Tuesday, from the president down to Senate, Congress and the New Hampshire governor. The polls have found only a sliver of the electorate say they are undecided.

Conversations with dozens of voters in the Merrimack Valley and southern New Hampshire yielded a few consistent reasons why those voters are still sitting on the fence, and they range from the personal, like Watts, to the practical to plain old frustration and disgust.

Watts said she has made up her mind for the New Hampshire governor’s race, between Manchester attorney Ovide Lamontagne on the Republican side and former state Senate majority leader Maggie Hassan on the Democratic side. “I’m probably going with Ovide,” she said. “He stands on his own and he doesn’t do the attack ads. I like that. I think it shows insecurity (to go negative).”

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