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How are New Hampshire's late-deciders picking their candidate?

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire - "Live free or die" is the oft-repeated New Hampshire slogan meant to signal certain characteristics about the state's voters. Like "flinty," "independent-minded," or "practical and well-informed." But with polls open here on primary day Tuesday, the word that may matter most is this: "holdout."

A third of of Republican voters are still trying to decide who to vote for, a University of New Hampshire poll showed Monday, lending some last-minute volatility to a wild campaign. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders is in the driver's seat and seems likely to beat Hillary Clinton. But Barack Obama was a safe bet here in 2008 -- until Clinton came from 10 points back to score an upset win.

According to interviews over the last week with almost three dozen New Hampshire voters, for some, the process of choosing one person to support is no easy task.


A police officer prepares to vote at Belmont High School February 9, 2016 in Belmont New Hampshire.Voting began in New Hampshire on Tuesday in the first US presidential primary, where Donald Trump leads the packed Republican field and Bernie Sanders was polling ahead of Hillary Clinton. Despite its small size New Hampshire's spot on the electoral calendar gives it special importance in the long state-by-state battle to select the Republican and Democratic candidates who will go head to head for the White House.

New Hampshire voters have the opportunity to see their presidential candidates, shake their hands, and test their mettle, not just once, but twice, three times, maybe even four. They can ask them questions, listen to their jokes (maybe more than once), and watch them grow throughout the presidential primary season. Some voters start with the issues.

Ben Spangenburg, an undecided independent voter from Peterborough, has narrowed the field down based on who he thinks is best on one issue in particular.

"I'm asking each of them a series of questions and seeing what their responses are, and as they respond, I will sit down and review it and make my decision," Spangenburg told CBS News before a John Kasich town hall in Bedford on Friday. "I want to have a president who shares those values of making sure that people who share those disabilities are free to get jobs without restrictions, live independently and achieve the American dream."

Is it nerve-wracking to get up in front of a candidate and a crowded room of strangers to expose vulnerability? "Sure," Spangenburger said -- but it's just something that a New Hampshire voter gets used to.

"These are people just like you and me, and they are interviewing with me," he said. "Not the other way around."

Others use online tools to help them decide. Samantha Bellows, an undecided independent from East Kingston, told CBS News at a Trump event in Nashua that she didn't even start out with a "top three" list of candidates to support. Instead, she went to a web site -- -- and took a quiz that matched her up with a candidate. "I'm going to see what that gives me as a result and go from there," she said. Bellows took the quiz towards the end of 2015 but wanted to update her results based on the current state of the race and make her decision from scratch.

Others, like Eric Orff, a New Hampshire outreach coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation, assess the state of the race and vote strategically. "Sometimes I like to use my vote as a sample to cut somebody off from the other ballot, so I use my vote sometimes for somebody and sometimes against somebody," Orff said. "I treat my vote very carefully."

First-time independent voter Abigail Ambrogli of Exeter, said her mother plans to employ a similar strategy on Tuesday, though she is wary of the impact. "I think I'm going to vote for Bernie Sanders right now," Ambrogli said. "But what my mom is doing is, she is going to vote for a Republican so she can intentionally sway the vote away from Trump....I like what my mom is doing, although I've heard it's not a very effective tactic."

Voters in New Hampshire share a sense of civic duty about the process. "I never miss a vote," said undecided independent voter Eveyn Sanborn of Dover. "I never miss. I voted every single year. I'm going to keep on listening until I hear what really makes me make my decision. Two most important factors? The terrorists and the economy."

Then, there are the idealists, too, people like Ken Divoli, an independent from Barrington who said he hasn't voted in 20 years and is deciding between Cruz and Trump. "I just signed up a couple of weeks ago," Divoli said. "Because it's so important that we get someone in there to straighten this mess out."