The New Hampshire polls closed at 8PM Eastern time, and seconds after 8PM Eastern, the New Hampshire primary winner was called. Mitt Romney was projected to be the winner.
With 92% of the vote counted - the current status is:
Mitt Romney 39% 91,460 votes
Ron Paul 23% 53,210 votes
Jon Huntsman 17% 39,172 votes
Newt Gingrich 9% 21,869 votes
Rick Santorum 9% 21,670 votes
Rick Perry 1% 1,622 votes
Michelle Bachmann 326 votes
Herman Cain 145 votes
The polls had pretty well predicted a Romney win and a second place finish for Ron Paul. However, at this point, Romney is doing better than the last few polls that came out, in particular the Suffolk University daily tracking poll which showed Romney dropping into the low 30's. It is quite possible that Romney can surpass the 40% mark.
Some of the biggest takeaways from the vote today are held within the exit polls....
45% of those who cast ballots in the Republican primary were not affiliated with either major Party.
Of these, 32% supported Romney, 30% supported Paul, and 23% supported Huntsman.
48% of those who were registered as Republicans, cast their votes for Romney.
21% of the voters considered themselves 'very conservative'. Of these 33% voted for Romney, 26% voted for Rick Santorum, 18% voted for Ron Paul, and 17% voted for Newt Gingrich.
32% of the voters considered themselves 'somewhat conservative'. Of these 48% voted for Romney, 20% for Ron Paul, 13% Jon Huntsman, and 11% Newt Gingrich.
Overall, of the 53% of those who consider themselves 'conservative' as opposed to moderate or liberal, 42% voted for Romney, 19% for Paul, 15% for Santorum, 13% Gingrich, and 9% Huntsman.
51% of the New Hampshire voters support the Tea Party. Of these, 40% voted for Romney, 22% voted for Paul, 14% for Santorum, 13% for Gingrich, and 9% for Huntsman.
61% of those who voted considered the economy as the primary issue that mattered the most in deciding on who they would support....and 45% of those voted for Romney.
Electability - the ability to defeat Barack Obama was also a major factor in whom the voters decided to support. 35% cited this as the main candidate quality that factored into their decision - and 62% voted for Romney, 12% for Gingrich, Paul 11%.
82% of the voters in the Republican primary were either dissatisfied, but not angry or angry with the Obama Administration.
61% of those who voted today would be satisfied with Mitt Romney as the GOP nominee.
46% of the voters decided on whom to vote for either today or in the last few days. 32% of these voted for Romney, 22% voted for Huntsman, 19% for Paul, 15% for Santorum, and 9% for Gingrich.
First off, it's absurd that 45% of those who voted for the prospective Republican Party nominee for aren't Republicans. This group also skewed the numbers for Ron Paul - making Paul appear to be a stronger candidate than he really is.
If we use the 'conservative' and 'somewhat conservative' labels - it's hard to see the meme that Mitt Romney has a major problem with conservatives as he earned 42% of their vote. Same the meme that Romney can't get Tea Party support - 40% of those in NH who support the Tea Party voted for Romney. The exit polls also reinforced the perception that Romney is the most electable of the Republican candidates - and one who would satisfy 61% of the voters.
I also think that there is some data in here that should cause the President some pause. 82% of the voters were either dissatisfied with the Obama Administration or angry with the way the Administration has operated. 61% also think that the economy is the biggest problem. I see a real weakness for the President from both of these numbers - particularly since almost half of those voting aren't Republicans but Independents.
The candidates most in trouble in the wake of the NH results are:
Jon Huntsman - he failed to gain traction here with a disappointing 3rd place finish to show for his prolonged campaigning efforts. While 1 in 5 late breakers went to him, he still hasn't been able to do real damage or be a real alternative to Romney.
Newt Gingrich - Kamikaze Newt, it appears, was unsuccessful in his efforts this past weekend to slam and damage Romney from the hard left position - speaking out against venture capitalism (vulture capitalism). The damage he is doing to himself and his reputation far outweighs the damage he is doing to Romney.
Rick Santorum - didn't really get a huge bounce from his 2nd place Iowa finish, he's in a similar position to Gingrich in making the attacks on Romney from the left - and needing strong finishes in SC and Florida to be able to compete into March.
Ron Paul - this is likely going to be his high water mark. He will remain, probably until the end, gaining far more attention than he should be getting.