Mitt Romney is the Man of the Hour as the 2012 New Hampshire primary results confirm. Winning the Granite State with about 39% of the vote, Romney beat the ′expectations bar′ set by ′the-Boys-in-Las-Vegas′ at 37%. We all know what sticklers they are! Ron Paul finished second with about 24% of the vote, followed by Jon Huntsman, Jr. in third with 17%. If there was a real loser last night, one would have to say it was Rick Santorum, who lost and finished in fifth place after a close fight with Newt Gingrich. Both of them got under 10% of the vote, so Santorum′s near win in Iowa failed to give him much, if any traction in New Hampshire.
The New Hampshire exit polling data does show some remarkable results. Romney won in nearly every demographic. For example, Jon Huntsman, Jr. pretty much only won in two demographic categories: Democrat voters and those Strongly opposed to the Tea Party movement. Not exactly fertile ground for the remainder of the GOP primary schedule. Ron Paul did best with young people, as well as with those in lower income brackets, Atheists, singles and with Independents. Congressman Paul also did well with those wanting a ′True Conservative′ and a candidate with ′Strong Moral Character.′
But Romney topped the field in every other conceivable category. Conservative voters, Evangelicals, Tea Party supporters, 30-years old and older, registered Republicans, Moderates, social issue voters and fiscal hawks. Pretty much across the board. Even in the categories concerned with when voters decided on whom they would cast their ballots for, Romney won in each grouping, from those who decided months ago to those who decided election day.
So the 2012 New Hampshire primary results, given the exit poll data, show that Mitt Romney was the clear winner last night with Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman, Jr. coming in second and third. Of course, the fly in the buttermilk for Mitt is that he′s been running in the Granite State essentially non-stop since 2007, even buying a home there in 2009. Also, like Iowa, New Hampshire is not exactly a state that is representative of the rest of the nation. Both states have relatively low unemployment rates and neither were hurt as sharply by the housing market and financial collapse as say South Carolina and Florida were. Both states are also, racially, very White. These next two races will be crucial, as SC is more representative of the Southern voting block and Florida is very much a mirror for most of the country in terms of population, economics and demography. From a strategic standpoint, Romney has also now entered the realm as the official frontrunner, a position he had never been in during the last 5 years of campaigning. The scrutiny of the Media, and of his opponents, will now be set to ′Maximum Effort′ during the rest of January.