Mitt Romney walked away with his expected victory in New Hampshire’s Republican primary Tuesday night, in a contest that elicited few surprises compared to the results of the Iowa caucus last week.
According to CNN, Romney earned 40 percent of the vote while the first runner-up, libertarian torch bearer Ron Paul, came in with 23 percent. Third place finisher John Huntsman, the former governor of Utah who focused all of his early campaigning in the Granite State, earned 17 percent.
Rick Santorum lost the Iowa caucus to Romney by only eight votes, but in New Hampshire he fought for fourth place with Newt Gingrich. Gingrich ended up garnering 10 percent of the vote, closely followed by Santorum’s 9 percent. Rock Perry, who did not campaign in New Hampshire in an effort to rev up his floundering presidential bid in the South Carolina, the next primary state, received just 1 percent of the vote.
Romney’s 2-0 primary record positions him as a stronger frontrunner as all six candidates head into South Carolina’s primary on January 21. His opponents, particularly Gingrich, have attacked him as a “Massachusetts moderate” who is out of touch with conservative economic and social values. In particular, he lacks traction with the Tea Party activists that have become the conservative base of the Republican Party.
Socially conservative candidates will likely have better showings among voters in South Carolina as compared to the relatively independent voters in New Hampshire. Expect a barrage of rhetoric against same-sex marriage and reproductive freedoms over the next week.