A breakout victory for Romney in NH

Until last night, the argument against Mitt Romney has been that he couldn’t get above 25 percent support. That changed with the results of the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary.

Romney took nearly 40 percent of the vote in a Republican primary that had nine candidates on the ballot. His margin over second-place finisher Ron Paul is very close to two to one. Coming on the heels of a win in the Iowa Caucuses, Romney heads for the South Carolina primary with very strong momentum.

John Huntsman, who has spent months in New Hampshire, had a late surge, finishing a respectable third with 16.8% of the vote. Huntsman’s problem is the path forward. He has little money and little organization in South Carolina and Florida, then next primary states.

One-time frontrunners Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry together took just ten percent of the vote, with Perry attracting fewer than 2,000 votes out of nearly a quarter million cast. Rick Santorum’s strong showing in Iowa did not move with him from the heartland to New England. Santorum finished fifth, slightly behind Newt Gingrich.

For the GOP, it increasingly looks as if the question is; when will the party coalesce behind Mitt Romney and start working to defeat Barack Obama in the November election? Many in the GOP believe that the enthusiasm of the Ron Paul crowd, and the bitterness that now exists between Romney and Newt Gingrich, will work against Romney as he gets ready to take on Barack Obama in the general election.

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