Okay, scratch “unexpectedly.” (Sorry, I just couldn’t resist using that in a headline)
As of this writing the polls have only been closed for an hour or so, but already CNN and the AP are projecting a Romney win. Right now, the numbers look like this: Mitt Romney 36%, Ron Paul 25%, Jon Huntsman 17%, Newt Gingrich 10%, Rick Santorum 10%. Sadly, it looks like God’s will for Rick Perry has become abundantly clear. I think the only big question coming out of this primary is how to explain the popularity of Ron Paul. And what will his supporters (who in large measure have no love for the Republican establishment) do when Romney wins the nomination this summer?
A record 250,000 voters were expected to turn out for the GOP primary on an unseasonably warm winter day, Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan told CNN. With no competitive challenger to President Barack Obama on the Democratic side, more “undeclared” voters could weigh in on the Republican race, he said.
“We’re hearing that the turnout is steady,” Scanlan said. “There aren’t lines that are backing up, but people are just constantly moving through the polling places. It’s certainly what we would expect during a presidential primary.”
… Early exit poll data showed that nearly seven out of 10 Republican voters in the state were very worried about the economy and their personal financial situation.
One in four said the deficit was the most important issue. Also, more than three-quarters of respondents said the series of Republican debates was important to their final decision, while less than half said television ads were important.
“Tonight we made history,” Romney told cheering supporters.
With his victory, Romney became the first Republican to sweep the first two contests in competitive races since Iowa gained the lead-off spot in presidential campaigns in 1976.
Returns from the first 21 percent of New Hampshire precincts showed Romney with 35 percent of the vote, followed by Paul with 25 percent, Huntsman 17 percent and former House Speaker Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Sen. Santorum with 10 percent each.
Mitt Romney comes out of this primary with a commanding lead over the other candidates, and with a tremendous amount of valuable experience both on the campaign trail and on the debate stage. Hopefully he is ready to challenge the media onslaught that will attempt to portray him as a greedy Richie Rich playboy who loves to fire people. Undoubtedly he is ready to take on Barack Obama.
UPDATE: Exit polling results show Rick Perry at … 1%. Yikes.