For the better part of last year, you've been reading their letters to the editor to the Concord Monitor, seeing their quotes in the Christian Science Monitor here and here, and on ABC News here. You've seen them on The Hankster video after they accepted the 2007 Anti-Corruption Award in New York City on behalf of the New Hampshire Committee for an Independent Voice, and then on NBC's Nightly News with Tom Brokaw (a shorter version is at the top of The Hankster) or talking with Barack Obama on CNN.
And today, Betty Ward and Russ Ouellette shared their thoughts with me by email about their state's first-in-the-nation primary.
Betty, an elementary school teacher, said, "It was a great day for America, a great day for Independents. A record number of people coming out to vote, the majority being independents and young people, and that there is an active participation in the democratic process. Independents are changing the conversation, changing the political landscape, and independents and the American people will decide the next president."
Russ, a management consultant said, "My thoughts are that Obama lost to McCain, not Hillary. Hillary got her expected base of Democrats and women and Obama shared some of his Independent votes with McCain. This is why it is so important for candidates, the media, and everyone in politics to listen to and engage independents.
"We witnessed a flurry of interest in independent politics all through this primary season, with a fever pitch reached the day of the Primary. This dialog must continue so all citizens understand the value of their independent opinion and vote.
"Also, the polls were wrong. The media can not continue to count on old-school pundits and pollsters who have lost the ability to tap into the real America. Their methods need to consider independent voters as a movement and not some leaning undecided fringe. Go Independent voters ... we can make this decision!"
According to Ari Pinkus' article this afternoon in the Christian Science Monitor, "Obama drew more of the independent vote here – about 24 percent – than any other candidate, Democrat or Republican. Clinton garnered about 18.6 percent of independents, and Senator McCain 15.1 percent. The remainder cast ballots for one of the nine other candidates, the exit poll data showed."
Congratulations to Betty, Russ, Andre Gibeau, Donna Richards, and all the independents who worked so hard to make their voices heard in New Hampshire in this election. We know it's only the beginning!