Salena Zito

“I have to admit, it is scary,” he said. “Here you have people who are used to making $50,000, who are reduced to washing dishes or sweeping floors. They are the people who have given up, whose unemployment checks have stopped coming in.”

Logiotatos said the sour economy also has produced an uptick in crime: “The bank next door? Robbed three times in the past few months. Drugs are a problem, too.

“I say people have lost hope since 2008. I don't think that was what the slogan was meant to portray,” he said of the president’s original hope-and-change platform.

In the three-block walk between Logiotatos’ diner and a local stationery shop, four older panhandlers step from the doorways of shuttered shops to ask for spare change.

Mabel Amar is a hard-core liberal, to the left of Obama, and she is very disappointed in him.

“He extended the Bush tax cuts, and he compromised with the Republicans,” she blurts, “and I say, how dare he?” In a perfect world, she would vote for someone else, she said. “He has disappointed so much of his base.”

No matter which side of the political aisle you occupy, a deep distrust of government and a fear of it encroaching upon people's lives have always existed in New Hampshire.

To win this state again, the president needs to explain his record and have some sort of accomplishment to tout. Yet none of his accomplishments sit well with voters here in the “Live Free or Die” state.

Independent voters such as Logiotatos, who helped to push Obama to victory in 2008, have hardened against him and will not turn back. Liberals such as Amar, who make up his critical base, are not motivated to turn out and vote; to them, Obama has been very disappointing.

And “the president has to have this state to win,” reminds pollster Paleologos. “It is as important as either an Ohio or a Pennsylvania.”

Salena Zito

Salena Zito is a political analyst, reporter and columnist.