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Rick at the Diner

4:21 PM, Jan 9, 2012 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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Derry, N.H.
The menu at MaryAnn's Diner on East Broadway in Derry proclaims it “A Blast from the Past,” so it was presumably an appropriate venue for a consistent conservative like Rick Santorum to visit today. As he worked the lunchtime crowd, one grumpy diner looked up and complained to those of us hovering nearby and making his repast less peaceful than usual, “It's over, Romney's going to win, what's the big deal?” To which the Londonderry resident standing next to me responded, “Maybe, but I'm voting for someone else to keep the race going.”

diner

Is the sense that a Romney win in New Hampshire is inevitable helping or hurting him here? It's probably not making much difference, but my (unreliable) impression is it's hurting a bit, and that may be why he's slipped a little in the last few days in all the polls.

The Londonderry man was undecided as to which non-Romney candidate he was going to vote for. His wife told me she was inclined to vote for Santorum, on the grounds that he would do the most to keep America safe. Which brings to me to my (unreliably) impressionistic second point: A lot of voters don't seem to be voting simply on the economy. They certainly seem eager to talk about a host of other issues—foreign policy, health care, the size of government, leadership, character, and experience—which makes me wonder about the Washington conventional wisdom that it's all the economy, stupid.

In any case, here’s a prediction, for what it’s worth:

Romney 33
Huntsman 20
Paul 18
Santorum 15
Gingrich 11
Roemer 2
Perry 1

Implications? Everyone goes on to a fun slugfest in South Carolina.

And here's a discovery that could be important to other travelers to the area: Of the three Dunkin' Donuts on Route 28 between Manchester and Derry, the one in Londonderry is terrific—fresh coffee, nice people behind the counter, clean tables. The one in Derry is satisfactory. And the drive-thru DD at the Sunoco near the Manchester airport? Not the finest, I'm afraid, Dunkin’ has to offer.

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