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Snow predicted for New Hampshire primary

Democratic presidential hopeful and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean campaigns in the snow Thursday in New Hampshire.
Democratic presidential hopeful and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean campaigns in the snow Thursday in New Hampshire.

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MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) -- The New Hampshire presidential primary may be the first of the 2004 campaign, but the National Weather Service said Sunday it also may be among the snowiest, forcing some potential voters to stay home instead of schlepping through the snow to get to the polls.

Residents of Manchester and Concord -- in the southern part of the state -- may wake up Tuesday morning to as much as a foot of snow, according to National Weather Service forecaster Steve Flood. Heaviest snowfall, Flood said, likely would be in the hills west of there.

"Oh, bring your warm clothes," Flood said. "It's going to get pretty cold, I'd say probably 10 or 20 above zero."

"Wind chill temperatures will probably be close to zero," Flood said.

Flood, based at the NWS facility in Camp Springs, Maryland, blamed the possible snowfall on a "major coastal development" off the southern coast of Long Island, New York, combined with a storm working its way up the Ohio River Valley.

But it takes more than a foot of snow to discourage most New Hampshire voters, according to Kevin Landrigan, veteran political reporter for the Nashua Telegraph.

"I've covered seven primaries," Landrigan said. "People go to great lengths to go. If it's a foot of snow, people work to get there."

"It's got to be more than a foot and half" to have an impact he said, and in that case, it's the senior citizens who will have a harder time getting there.

Campaigns with strong get-out-the-vote efforts like Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts won't suffer, Landrigan said, but other campaigns such as those of retired Gen. Wesley Clark, Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, who rely on people to get themselves to the polls, may see a small decline in support.

New Hampshire voters are so eager to participate, Landrigan said, that some campaigns have questioned the value of offering voters free rides to the polls.

"It's a real big expense" and questionable whether it's worthwhile, he said.

"People in New Hampshire get out to exercise their vote come hell or high water."

Presidential primaries are next scheduled for February 3 in Delaware, North Dakota, Missouri and Oklahoma, where winter snowfall could also be a factor. Other primaries that day in Arizona in the Southwest and South Carolina in the Southeast aren't likely threatened.

Iowans brave the cold

Weather appeared to have little effect on last Monday's Iowa caucuses. As the race for president heated up, temperatures were down in the single digits. Hearty Iowans came out anyway to chose their candidates, in near record-setting numbers.

An estimated 100,000 to 125,000 Iowans braved single-digit temperatures across the state to attend their precinct caucuses.

Iowa Democratic party officials had expected 110,000 people to participate -- about 20 percent of the state's 530,000 registered Democrats and almost twice the number who participated four years ago, when Al Gore beat Bill Bradley.

CNN.com's Liza Kaufman Hogan contributed to this report.


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