Manchester, N.H. — At Ward 1 polling place at Webster School, it’s pandemonium.
Supporters for a whole flock of candidates – there were Romney, Huntsman, and Paul signs up, among others –are loudly cheering and waving signs. Media, both US and foreign, are everywhere. Chants intermittently start and sputter out. The Americans Elect bus is periodically rolling by, and just when things seemed to have reached peak absurdity level, a convertible with two people in pig costumes, rolls by. The “pigs,” happily perched on the back seat, are holding up signs saying: “Cut the pork: tax meat.” They’re from PETA.
Jon Huntsman enters this melee, hopping out of a black SUV, and trying to work his way up the narrow path toward the polling center, media and supporters thronged on either side of the barricades the police have set up. Some of the chants are pro-Huntsman: “Country first,” and “Go, Jon, go.” One man keeps shouting, “Who’s Obama’s boy? Jonny!”
Accompanied by his wife Mary Kaye, Huntsman works his way up the line of cameras and then starts back down. Wearing a red jacket and blue shirt, he seems unruffled by the circus atmosphere and calm about his prospects today, in the state where he has relentlessly campaigned.
“It feels good,” he said, noting that both he and his wife had done “everything humanly possible” to obtain a Granite State victory.
“We’ve given this state our heart and our soul. And that’s all you can do,” Huntsman calmly said.
“We all kind of wait to see what it means tonight and we live with the results,” he added, not offering any specific predictions. There’s been talk of Huntsman pulling off a surprise surge and finishing second, beating out Ron Paul. One sign that suggests he may do better than expected: a Google analysis of searches done in New Hampshire showed Huntsman getting a more significant uptick in searches post-debates than other candidates did.
But Huntsman has a simpler metric for what he wants to achieve tonight. “A good finish,” he said, “is a smile on Mary Kaye’s face.”