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Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman Tie in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, First Town to Vote in State's Primary

Aired January 9, 2012 - 23:580   ET



We're just moments away from a time honored tradition here in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, where we're going to have the very first votes in this first in the nation primary. I'm joined by Ray Brewer of WMUR in Manchester, New Hampshire.

You'll notice behind me that a line of -- a line of nine voters lined up here in this town to basically cast their votes right at the stroke of midnight. This is the tradition that goes back to 1960 for this town. This town, since 1960, has been casting their votes first in the First of the Nation state of New Hampshire.

And you'll see right now. Let's listen in. The first vote's coming in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- of the Republican candidate running against Barack Obama is now in progress. That's five. Single ballots cast. Now the grand total here nine. Historically, Dixville Notch has not necessarily been (inaudible) right?


TRAVIS: Now it appears that they are looking for -- they're supposed to --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All registered voters have voted. The town can vote to close the polls and move to -- seconded. All those in favor?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE. Polls are closed. We will now count the ballots. And as soon as we have the tally, we will report it out in the other ballot room.

TRAVIS: What is happening now is that Tom Tulitson (ph), who is the town moderator for the nearby town, is going to pull out the ballots that were just dropped into the ballot box just seconds ago. This goes by pretty quickly.

He is showing us the inside of the box to make sure that all of the ballots will be counted. And him and the town supervisor will count these ballots. And he you just explained a few moments ago, they will report the results in the next room, literally within minutes.

This is pretty significant because since 1968, the winner of this very small vote in this town has gone on to win the Republican nomination consistently since 1968. So basically what we are saying is that whoever wins tonight, whether it is Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum, given the track record for this towns voting for Republicans, they could go on to become the eventual Republican nominee.

You'll probably see as well -- the red ballots -- the red/pinkish ballots are for Republicans. And the blue ballots are for Democrats. And you'll notice some others for undeclared, for the independents who are here. The breakdown of the nine registered voters -- there are four independents in this town, three Republicans and two Democrats who vote here.

Let's just take a look at how they are verifying who voted for whom.


TRAVIS: We want to make sure that we don't know who -- which of these voted for which candidate. But again, we do know that there are nine of them and that four of them are independents. Three of them are Republicans. And two of them are Democrats. Whether they will maintain their votes, voting for their party, we won't know until the results are announced.

But that is basically the breakdown. And it seems as if they are wrapping up pretty quickly. They have grouped some ballots together. And let's listen in at what's next.

As you can see, this is happening pretty quickly. We want to bring in Ray Brewer from WMUR to talk a little bit more about this process. You are a veteran of this.

RAY BREWER, WMUR, MANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE: This is my fourth, Shannon, yes.

TRAVIS: How is this any different or similar than what you have seen in the three times before?

BREWER: It is very similar in the fact that the polls are open and closed very quickly. It took about a minute. It is different in the fact that the hotel is closed for renovations now this time around. In the past, it has been open, a lot more hustle and bustle. We've had presidential candidates here.

But because of the fact the hotel is closed, that didn't happen this time around.

TRAVIS: Let's talk a little bit about the hotel being closed. Normally the town is this hotel, correct?

BREWER: That is correct. As a matter of fact, most of the registered voters here -- in fact all the registered voters are employed here at that hotel. And so that is the livelihood of the people in this neck of the woods.

TRAVIS: The hotel was recently sold, last year some time. So that has actually decreased the population of this area a lot.

BREWER: Normally, we have about 17 voters, registered voters. This time we only had nine. That is very similar -- as a matter of fact, a touch of irony in the very first primary that they held her back in 1960. They had just nine voters.

TRAVIS: We are going into the room now to listen to the results.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The votes have been tallied and the results are as such. For as the Democrats, there were three ballots cast for Barack Obama. That was all of the Democratic votes.

For Republicans, there was one vote boat cast for Newt Gingrich. There was two votes cast for Jon Huntsman. There was one vote cast for Ron Paul. And there were two votes cast for Mitt Romney.

For a total of nine.

Thank you all for coming.


TRAVIS: So this is actually -- it looks like there is no clear winner. There is a tie between Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman for the small vote here in Knoxville -- Dixville Notch, and one for Gingrich. Right, Newt Gingrich got one and Ron Paul got one. So what does this mean to you? You have been here three times before.

BREWER: Yes. Well, New Hampshire doesn't always follow Dixville Notch's lead. for instance, last time around, President Obama won here and John McCain. McCain went on to carry --

TRAVIS: In the general election though?

BREWER: No, in the primary, in the vote here at Dixville Notch, President Obama carried --


BREWER: Exactly. And went on to win the general. But what is interesting is Jon Huntsman is obviously putting his campaign on New Hampshire. He bypassed Iowa. He spent a lot of time here. And the undeclared, he was putting in -- the undeclared can take either Democratic or Republican vote. there are four undeclared voters. Looks like they went for the Republican.

It is interesting, though; one of them obviously went for President Obama, though. so maybe they can draw some solace in that.

TRAVIS: I noticed earlier when you were milling about that there was a Jon Huntsman representative who made the trek up here. I was speaking with some of the officials earlier. And they were saying none of the candidates came up to Dixville Notch this time around. But that has mostly been because the hotel has been closed. There really isn't any activity for them to come and campaign on.

Again, interesting that a Jon Huntsman representative would make the trek up here.

BREWER: Yes, Jon Huntsman, as you said, has pegged his campaign here on New Hampshire. He said in Iowa, they pick corn; in New Hampshire, they pick president's. I'm not sure that endeared him too much to the people in Iowa. But as has been said, he wasn't really paying any attention to that.

He has staked his campaign and his run for the presidency on a strong finish here in New Hampshire. Of course, our recent polls still show Mitt Romney ahead. And Mitt Romney did come out with two votes here in Dixville Notch.

TRAVIS: As we said before, we want to remind our viewers that Dixville Notch has picked the eventual Republican nominee consistently since 1968. Obviously here we have a tie between Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman. But this is probably going to bode well for the Huntsman campaign

BREWER: You would certainly think so. And our latest poll, taken just over the weekend, also showed him in a tie for third place. Ron Paul was finishing second. But Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman tied. So maybe a little bit of an Iowa bounce for Rick Santorum there.

But certainly Jon Huntsman -- he has been pitching to the undeclared voters, the independents. And our same poll also showed that 56 percent of the voters still hadn't made up their minds. So there is a big undeclared out there. And it will be interesting to see which way they swing. And hopefully, it won't be 2:30 in the morning, like it was an Iowa, before we get the results.

TRAVIS: Right. Ray Brewer, thanks so much for joining us, from WMUR.

There you have it, basically the results from Dixville Notch, the first voting results in New Hampshire's primary canning in right there, a tie between Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney. We will wait to see until tomorrow how both of the campaigns spin that, of course.

But, of course, the primary, the rest of the primary voting begins -- continues tomorrow.

I'm Shannon Travis in Dixville Notch. "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" starts in a few moments.