To no one's surprise, former Massachusetts governor and candidate for the Republican Presidential candidate nomination, Mitt Romney, won the New Hampshire primary yesterday. He won with an amount (39%) beyond what pundits claimed would otherwise show trouble, and he easily cleared Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who earned 23%. Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman claimed third place (with an enthusiasm almost more appropriate for a Saturday Night Live skit -- watch Huntsman's primary speech here) by garnering 17% of the vote. Check out a good look at all the numbers from WMUR, including former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum each with 9%. Texas Governor Rick Perry mustered 1% (and gets some love from Smart Girl Politics).
So what happened? More like, what didn't happen.
What didn't happen was a collapse of Romney's stature in what is practically his home state, regardless of his "I like to fire" statement that's been played up by Gingrich. What also didn't happen is Huntsman getting up to or past Ron Paul. And even his improvement from the Iowa showing, where he didn't campaign, gets knocked down a couple of notches because Iowa and New Hampshire voters don't have much in common. And for those rooting for Huntsman, you won't really need popcorn -- South Carolina is a lot more like Iowa (more about that in a minute).
Jan. 7, 2012 - Derry, New Hampshire, U.S. - Republican presidential frontrunner MITT ROMNEY greets supporters at a rally at Pinkerton Academy where he cautioned supporters against over confidence before Tuesday's primary. 'Don't get too confident with those polls,' he said at a breakfast rally in a gym at Pinkerton Academy. 'I've watched polls come and go. Things change. it's very fluid.' (Credit Image: © Mary F. Calvert/ZUMAPRESS.com)
Although turnout appears to have been turned down from high hopes, it was not as depressed as originally thought. But, as the exit polls show, Gingrich and Santorum simply don't have as much of a natural constituency in New Hampshire as Romney did, and, once people got to know him, Huntsman seemed to find. Paul's strength appeared to come from the youth in the state as well as voters who live in regions that are rarely visited. In a word, he and Huntsman were tireless in their efforts in the state and that paid off in conjunction with voters sentiments.
For those of us who are comfy online and off, coverage for the platform agnostic political junkie was resplendent! Just look at BlogHer Executive Editor Julie Ross Godar's post, Mashable's review of the candidates' use of social media in the primary and this set of infographics about Facebook and the wannabees -- sounds like a band name.
Of course what is absent now from that coverage is women, except for those we see who are either spouses, daughters or voters. I don't know about you, but I really miss seeing a woman on the stage or in the screen shots and speeches. Michele Bachmann was never going to get a vote from me, but I cheered for her, publicly, on a regular basis for sticking in there.
As for NH's voters, the exit poll says that New Hampshire's women went for Romney by a big margin (40%), then Ron Paul at 20% and then Huntsman with 18%. I'm not sure what that's about other than familiarity. If you need to get a female politician's fix, Sarah Palin appeared on Fox twice, first with Megyn Kelly and Bret Baier and then with Eric Bolling.
As yet, I've not seen any article analyze the female conservative voters' sentiments now, but as a plain ole female voter, I was sorry to see Bachmann go buh-bye.
What about South Carolina, with its primary on Saturday, January 21? A few things: they have serious unemployment and budget issues, while Iowa, comparatively speaking, is not suffering from those as heavily. It's expected that this difference is going to make SC voters focus more heavily on electability as in beating Obama, and Romney has owned that moniker from the start. In addition, he has SC Governor Nikki Haley's endorsement. How much that will matter is up for debate given her somewhat rocky first year, and the reality that South Carolina is home to U.S. Senator Jim DeMint, arguably the most well-known and powerful Tea Party personality -- not a Romney supporter.
Ultimately, though, this situation is just like when a friend of mine was looking to move up from a Mercury to a Camry but really wanted the Lexus. He test drove the Camry, liked it and felt it was a great deal he could afford but couldn't give in to not having the Lexus. So he tortured himself for six weeks, test driving the Lexus and trying to find a deal he could afford. Finally, he went with the Camry -- which I knew he'd end up getting all along.
Republican voters and Mitt Romney are like my friend and that Camry: they know that if they want Obama out, they cannot afford any other candidate to beat Romney, no matter how much Romney isn't the conservative voter's dream car.
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