There is a lot of pressure, then, on the voters of the Granite State. And there is a nonzero chance that King, despite her almost unparalleled access to the candidates, may walk into the voting booth this afternoon without knowing whom she’s voting for. I talked with King yesterday about that pressure, a weight felt by thousands of undecided voters across the state. Our interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Elaine Godfrey: Walk me through your political involvement this year. Which candidates have you met?
Gerri King: [My husband, Ron, and I have] hosted 12 candidates in our home this year, starting a year ago when Cory Booker came and 120 people showed up—with six days’ notice—during the holidays on a Saturday night. When we get that many people, a candidate’s staff has to help take our furniture out to the garage to accommodate them. Obama was at our house when he first ran, and Howard Dean was here when he ran a long time ago.
It’s the norm here that we see candidates. It is not the norm that there are so many undecided—us included. The reason that I haven’t decided—and many of our friends say the same thing—is that there are so many good candidates. So it’s a good reason. When I’m asked what I think of the candidates, I describe them [as making up] one perfect person.
Godfrey: You held an event at your house a couple of weeks ago for undecided voters to hear from Buttigieg supporters. Tell me about that.
King: Gary Hirshberg, who started Stonyfield yogurt, and Jennifer Frizzell, who’s very big in policy, are both supporting Pete Buttigieg. They asked us [if they could] come to our house and meet with undecided voters. We put out word to our very long list of people, probably 150 or 200 people, and said we were having that event. People came just to hear why they were supporting him.
Godfrey: What did you hear from voters there? Were people worried about still being undecided?
King: I haven’t seen people terribly stressed. I’ve seen them a little nervous. It’s like when you’re in college, and your paper’s due tomorrow. I don’t know if people are going to pull all-nighters …
Godfrey: How about your own decision-making process? How are you thinking about all of this?
King: When I start, I always keep an open mind. I didn’t think my mind would be open at this point! I was on NHPR public radio a couple of months ago talking about undecided voters and they called and said, ‘Do you wanna come back?’ I said, ‘My list has gotten longer instead of shorter.’
The story we tell about my husband is, he thought he was really narrowing down and then more candidates came to our house. Ron’s response was: ‘Damn it!’
Godfrey: Who has impressed you most?
King: I have to say, this really sounds sort of silly, but to a candidate, they have been gracious. They’ve been fun. We do all the cooking [at our events]. I was brought up Jewish, and I make a dish called noodle kugel. The only time I make it is for candidates. What happens is, I put a sign out that says, “Our experience is that if the candidate takes a bite of the kugel, they win something.” I [also] put out a disclaimer saying I really apologize to Howard Dean because I didn’t serve it [to him] and see what happened? I think Obama had kugel for the first time here.