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1st Quarter 5:17

LATE DECIDERS

Three undecided N.H. voters finally make their choices

Kevin Staley

Cheryl Senter for The Boston Globe

Kevin Staley found himself feeling “suspicous” of Mitt Romney’s positions during the final days of the campaign.

On Tuesday the Globe caught up with three people featured in a Globe story about undecided New Hampshire voters that ran over the weekend.

The results of this very unscientific survey: One went with Republican Mitt Romney, one with President Obama, and a third declined to say whom he had chosen — but strongly hinted that he would vote for Obama.

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Deb Carter, a 39-year-old mother of three from Merrimack and manager at Cardoza Flooring in Milford, had been truly torn. The loss of a steady job last year shook her confidence in the US economy and the president’s ability to handle it, but she was concerned about his Republican challenger’s willingness to cut funding for Planned Parenthood.

After much thought, she finally reasoned that past Republican presidents who opposed abortion rights had not done much to limit them. The issue, she decided, was really a distraction.

After work, she planned to vote for Romney.

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“I just want to see something dramatic, something different, a big change,” she said.

Her view of the Republican, she said, began to solidify over the last couple of weeks, particularly in the final debates. She liked what she saw, she said.

“The way he presents himself is a good representation of our country — he wants to take us back to more of a leadership role on this planet,” she said. “We’ve fallen behind a little bit, and people are not taking us seriously enough anymore, and I’d like to see that change.”

Another undecided voter, Kevin Staley, a 54-year-old professor of philosophy at Saint Anselm College, said he had made up his mind, too. As someone whose life’s work is to encourage students to reflect and follow their own consciences, he said, he preferred not to state his choice in the newspaper. But he suggested that his opinion of Romney had been steadily sinking over the weekend, as he took the time to sift through years of speeches and statements by the former Massachusetts governor.

He tried to ask himself whether he could reconcile Romney’s shifting and sometimes conflicting statements on issues such as abortion (Romney went from supporting to opposing the right to abortion) and whether coal-fired power plants were a threat to human health (Romney now says he would champion the coal industry, but as governor he had pushed for the Salem Harbor Power Station to clean up, saying, “I will not create jobs or hold jobs . . . that kill people”) .

Reading Romney’s past statements left Staley feeling “suspicious” about the Republican, he said.

“He might not be flip-flopping and he might not be lying, but he does use language to create a variety of impressions that are not always consistent,” he said. “It’s difficult to know what he really means.”

Staley is concerned about the economy, but he thinks both candidates will work hard to turn it around. “For me, it’s not who’s going to create the most jobs, it’s a matter of what I can infer about this person’s core beliefs, about what he’s said over a longer period of time than an election cycle.”

A third late-undecided voter was Joan Sabatini, 85, of Salem. She voted early Tuesday morning, and she voted for the president. “I’m not sure about the other guy,” she said.

And in the end — after all the ads, the debates, and the agonizing — that was all she had to say about it.

Lisa Wangsness can be reached at lwangsness@globe.com.
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