Osburn: Romney makes history with New Hampshire winWritten by Ben Osburn | | email@example.com
A week after the Iowa caucus, Mitt Romney strengthened his momentum with a large win in New Hampshire, the first state to hold a primary election. He made history by becoming the first Republican presidential candidate to win both the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire’s primary. Romney finished with 39 percent of the vote, slightly better than many entrance polls predicted, on a night when a record-breaking 250,000 Republican voters showed up to the polls. Texas congressman and quasi-libertarian Ron Paul finished in a distant yet better then anticipated second place, receiving 23 percent of the vote.
Although the state is considered a small fraction of the total delegation, much attention is paid to New Hampshire due to its spot on the primary calendar. New Hampshire historically tends to be more moderate than many of the other early primary states, like South Carolina. As a result, candidates often view New Hampshire as a must-win. Doing so is an indication that a candidate could score well with the more moderate wing of the Republican Party and thus perhaps better in the general election.
In 2008, Romney lost New Hampshire to Sen. John McCain by a slim 6 percent of the vote. This time, he was able to win several important counties he formerly lost, including Merrimack County, which includes the state capital of Concord. He was able to pick up seven of the 12 pledged delegates from his win, bringing him to a total of 14 pledged delegates and 25 overall. Romney won a diverse array of the vote. He scored very well with moderates, gaining 40 percent of their vote. In contrast, of the voters who considered themselves “very conservative,” Romney won with 33 percent to Paul’s 18. He also won the plurality of votes from people who favored the Tea Party and Christian conservatives.
Critics have chastised Romney for not being conservative enough. If exit polling did not prove them wrong, perhaps his victory speech did. Shortly after the polls closed, Romney spoke like a candidate who had already won the nomination. He went on the attack against President Barack Obama, claiming that he is a failed president who puts his faith in government and not the American people.
Romney sharply criticized Obama’s position on foreign policy, saying that Obama practices “appeasement,” and does not adequately support Israel. He also criticized the health care bill passed under his administration, saying that he would repeal it. Romney draws criticism himself for passing a bill as governor of Massachusetts that was essentially the same thing on a state level.
Paul will move his campaign forward after nearly receiving a quarter of the total votes. Paul did very well among young voters, a huge demographic for him, and independents. Paul’s anti-government message resonates with many Republicans across the country; his stance on foreign policy does not. He promises to cut the federal budget by $1 trillion while in office, bring troops home from Afghanistan and abolish the Federal Reserve. Critics say Paul’s views are “dangerous.” In response to this, Paul states what might as well be the slogan of his campaign: “We are dangerous to the status quo.” Paul received three delegates.
Former Utah governor John Huntsman, who ignored Iowa to campaign in New Hampshire, finished with 17 percent of the vote and two delegates. Having formerly worked in the Obama administration as the ambassador to China, Huntsman tried to win the moderate vote, but fared better with former Democrats and people who are satisfied with Obama’s performance. Huntsman is campaigning on fixing the “trust deficit” in Washington and frequently preaches bipartisanship on many issues. Huntsman will move on to South Carolina.
Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum battled it out for fourth place, with Gingrich winning by 1 percent. Gingrich and Romney have been battling each other using campaign ads. Recently, Gingrich aired an ad targeting Romney’s experience at investment firm Bain Capital, portraying Romney as someone who gets rich by firing people. Gingrich spoke of investing in innovative technology to jump-start the economy and warned against the perils of overtaxation. Santorum was not able to use his second place Iowa finish to his advantage in New Hampshire. His campaign did not invest much in the state and is looking forward to South Carolina.
The big question going into South Carolina is what it will mean for the lesser-known candidates like Huntsman and Rick Perry, who received less than 1 percent of the New Hampshire vote. Anything less than a second place finish for either candidate could be the end for them. Santorum and particularly Gingrich have a better shot at winning the South Carolina primary compared to New Hampshire.
A win for either would be a boost to their campaign, as 25 “winner take all” delegates are at stake. However, a win for Romney could potentially seal his nomination.
Columnist Benjamin Osburn is a graduate student in political science at the University of Toledo. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.