Election 2012: New Hampshire – the story so far… Mitt Romney wins big

Covering the Coverage:

Fox continues to fly the Santorum flag even while it seems that he will be unable to replicate his good showing in New Hampshire. They’ve had him on their network more times than I can count and are quick to defend him from attacks (no matter how large or small). Fox News owner, Rupert Murdoch has consistently tweeted in support of Santorum, take this one for example:

rupertmurdoch

Good to see santorum surging in Iowa. Regardless of policies, all debates showed principles, consistency and humility like no other.

Chris Wallace sums up Fox’s position on Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman. He was quick to report, but also dismiss the impact of the Huntsman surge in New Hampshire as well as Paul’s potential impact nationally. Admittedly Huntsman will go into South Carolina with very little money or organisation, so he will likely face many of the problems that Santorum has in New Hampshire. Meanwhile, Ron Paul has never been a comfortable fit with the more conservative members of the Republican party, with many like Santorum, labeling him a ‘libertarian’ rather than a ‘republican’.

Meanwhile, MSNBC is torn between supporting Ron Paul (who their pundits had heavily favoured in Iowa) and the surging Jon Huntsman.

As expected, CNN is suggesting a big night for Romney and feels that it will be a tight race between Huntsman and Paul, with Paul slightly more likely to come in second.

The ‘Independent’ factor:

There are more registered independents in New Hampshire (44%) that Republicans or Democrats, but what will their impact be? Exit Polls are suggesting that a large independent turn-out  will favour front-runner Mitt Romney (who plays well with independents across the board) Ron Paul (especially if youth turn-out is high among independents) and Jon Huntsman, who is polling extremely well among moderates. Independents seek Republican candidates who they can trust,  who are moderate, who are willing to compromise and who are ‘electable’ (can beat Obama). These factors seem to suggest that Romney, Paul and Huntsman can take heart from this.

What the Exit Polls are saying:

Exit Polls just out of New Hampshire are in and they paint an interesting picture in relation to what they are looking for in a candidate:

  • 33% of republican voters say that the ability to beat Barack Obama in November is the most important consideration
  • 27% value a candidates ‘Experience’ over any other factor
  • 24% view ‘Moral Character’ as the number one issue that they take into consideration
  • 14% require a candidate to be a ‘True Conservative’ over anything else

These numbers suggest that Mitt Romney might be in for a big night in New Hampshire as he is the only candidate with a lead over Barack Obama nationally.

Another Exit Poll looked at whether or not Republicans were ‘satisfied’ by their candidate choices:

  • 67% are ‘satisfied’ with the Republican choices
  • 31% are ‘not satisfied’ with their choices in the Republican elections

This seems to suggest that Republicans are becoming increasingly more comfortable with their choices, and will likely rally around whoever is selected as the Republican nominee.

Who is voting for who?

New Hampshire consists of a variety of segments, each of which seem to be offering their support to one of the Republican candidates in the Primary. So according to Exit Polls, which segments offer the greatest support to which candidate?

Mitt Romney: Has the overwhelming support of Seniors, Fiscal Conservatives & polls well among Moderates

Ron Paul: Young voters continue to side with Paul during this election, while Independents are also a big part of his support

Jon Huntsman: The bulk of Huntsman’s support derives from ‘Moderates’ and ‘Independents’ which put him in competition with Romney and Paul for support, a potentially perilous position

Rick Santorum: Like in Iowa, Santorum is strong among Social Conservatives who have coalesced around him at the expense of Rick Perry in particular

Newt Gingrich: Is drawing support from various voter segments, particularly the ‘anti-Romney’ voters in New Hampshire, among which he is their main candidate

Rick Perry: Has seemingly abandoned NH and is making his last stand in South Carolina, campaigning there heavily

Update:

2:10 p.m. NBC, unsurprisingly, has just projected a comfortable Romney win and thinks that Ron Paul will finish in second ahead of Jon Huntsman (here)

2:27 p.m. NH results so far: Romney 35%, Paul 25%, Huntsman 18%, Gingrich 10%, Santorum 10% (w/16% reporting) 

2.35 p.m. CNN has officially projected Mitt Romney as the winner of the New Hampshire Primary. He’s the first non-incumbent Republican candidate to sweep Iowa and New Hampshire. This is a big result for his campaign.

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