Older voters look to past and future


After Terry Bernier cast her vote for Barack Obama on Election Day, she did the only thing left in her power. She prayed. The 83-year-old Nashua resident then spent Tuesday night "glued to the TV," watching the returns until well after Obama was declared the nation's next president. "I think he's going to make a big change," Bernier said, preparing for a bingo game at the Nashua Senior Center on Wednesday. "If he doesn't," she joked, "I'll go help him." There's been plenty of talk about how a tidal wave of youth voters helped sweep Obama to victory, but a small sampling of the older electorate in Nashua and Merrimack seems to have leaned his way, too. That's exactly how the exit pollsters had New Hampshire's older generation pegged the day after the election. Nationally, exit polls showed young voters between the ages of 18 and 29 overwhelmingly supported Obama, with 66 percent to McCain's 32, according to CNN.com. On the opposite side of the age spectrum, the tides were turned on a national scale, as senior citizens supported McCain 53 percent to Obama's 45 percent. But in New Hampshire, young and old all supported Obama. Each age group, 18-29, 30-44, 45-64, and 65-and-over were all for Obama. Younger voters were most strongly in favor of the Democratic candidate with 61 percent of that age group supporting Obama. Senior citizens also went blue with 56 percent of voters in the older bracket supporting Obama. "I think the best man won," said Theresa Zimmerman, 81, of Nashua. "He said, 'God Bless our America,' and it made a good impression with me . . . because I've never heard it that way. I think it is our America, as well as his." "He's very articulate. He's visionary. He's another John F. Kennedy as far as I'm concerned," said Mary Sidilau, a 38-year Nashua resident. "I'm thrilled because we do need to unite this country. I think he's for everyone. He's for all the people." Several senior citizens praised Obama for his plans to help the poor, especially in the areas of energy and health care costs. "I'm thrilled," said Ray Boudreau, of Nashua, who was shooting pool with friends at the senior center. "I like how he's going to roll taxes back." "New blood," piped in Tom Michaud, of Hudson, about his reason for supporting Obama. "New ideas about everything." Another pool player, 89-year-old Robert Laney, of Nashua, said he was a McCain supporter through and through. "He has a lot of experience; a long, honorable background; he has served this nation well. And he's not too old," Laney said gruffly. Then he smiled, adding, "I'm 17 years older than McCain, and I'd make a better president than Clinton, Bush and Obama." Emile Rondeau, of Dracut, Mass., said he kept a closer eye on New Hampshire's elections than on his own state's. He supported McCain in part because they share a military background, but said he saw the writing on the wall. "I think McCain was a little too old and he should have picked (Mitt) Romney, someone with a big mouth," Rondeau said of a running mate choice. "He would've been better off." Rosemary McDowell, 72, of Nashua, sat across from Rondeau at bingo. She supported Obama. "I did see Obama when he was here, and I enjoyed listening to him," McDowell said. "He seems very sincere, like he understands what the people need." In Merrimack, some folks at the John O'Leary Adult Community Center seemed to agree. "I think he's going to follow through with what he's talking about," said Al Chabot of Merrimack, pointing to the failing economy and ending the war as examples. "I was very impressed with the reception," said Priscilla Morin, of Nashua, regarding Obama's speech Tuesday night. "The country needs change. I think that not just because of race, but personally, I think it's going to be a real plus for the country." Jim Steele, 63, of Merrimack, said he voted for McCain. "A lot depends on how we react to other countries and how we treat them, and I don't think (Obama) had enough experience in that area," Steele said. "I liked McCain's broad knowledge of issues." Steele said despite his vote, he will support Obama - but not yet 100 percent. "He still has to prove himself to the rest of the country," Steele said. "Wait and see." Jackie Thompson of Merrimack said she didn't vote for either candidate because she had issues with both. "I'm wishing him well and I hope whatever he's promised to the people he does," Thompson said.
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