New Hampshire was pretty much decided before the votes were even cast in the Republican race to become that party’s nominee for President. Barring a colossal upset, Mitt Romney was going to win his New England backyard and he needed a big win to move the ball forward after squeaking out a barn burner in Iowa. His win was indeed huge, and Romney became the 1st non-incumbent Republican to capture both Iowa and New Hampshire.
Here are the numbers with 95% of the votes counted so far:
Mitt Romney: 95,669 39.4%
Ron Paul: 55,455 22.8%
Jon Huntsman: 40,903 16.8%
Newt Gingrich: 22,921 9.4%
Rick Santorum: 22,708 9.3%
Rick Perry: 1,710 0.7%
Buddy Roemer: 918 0.38%
Renegade Candidate Ron Paul finished significantly higher than expected with a huge influx of independents and young people turning out for the extreme libertarian. Paul has claimed to be in this race for the long haul and will take each delegate he collects to the convention. You can bet his supporters will be as disruptive as possible to the eventual establishment nominee. His post-Primary speech was rife with energy and his followers took over trending topics on twitter for a time last night. Enthusiasm is never a problem with Ron Paul voters.
Jon Huntsman had a respectable showing in 3rd place with 16.8% of the vote, but there are big questions of where the former Ambassador can make his next stand after putting so much effort into New Hampshire. Unlike Paul, he has not been cultivating much of a national base of support, and although he has vowed that his ticket has been punched to South Carolina, I can’t see him making much of an impact among the Southern voters there.
The two men most likely to still unite a Conservative challenge to Romney’s nomination both came in a little bit under expectations last night with Newt Gingrich finishing in 4th place with 9.4% of the vote, and Rick Santorum sliding in right behind him at 9.3%, only a few hundred votes separating the two. It is actually good news for Romney that neither of these candidates were able to even top Mike Huckabee’s totals from 2008 in this race.
Rick Perry meanwhile was persona non grata in the Granite State. He couldn’t even crack the 1% mark and for all his Texas oil millions, he barely squeezed out a margin about virtually unknown candidate Buddy Roemer from Louisiana. It seems like all momentum seeped out of the Perry campaign months ago with an unreal amount of debate gaffes. He is now a shallow hull of a candidate, only being propped up by leftover funds from the period when he entered the race with tons of energy and cash influx. Don’t expect to see him in this race much longer.