Romney easily wins New Hampshire race
By Noah Reichblum, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Wednesday, January 11, 2012
In an expected result, former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., won the New Hampshire Republican primary on Tuesday with roughly 39 percent of the vote. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, finished second with 23 percent, with former Gov. Jon Huntsman, R-Utah finishing third. In Hanover, Huntsman won with 39.3 percent of the vote.
United States President Barack Obama, who ran against a smattering of fringe candidates, easily won the Democratic primary.
Romney’s victory in New Hampshire, coupled with predicted strong results in the South Carolina and Florida primaries, could establish the former Massachusetts governor as the clear front-runner for the Republican ticket, public policy professor and Rockefeller Center Associate Director Ronald Shaiko said in an interview prior to the release of the primary results.
“It could be a done deal very early on,” Shaiko said.
Romney is the first non-incumbent Republican candidate to win both the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary.
Prior to the New Hampshire primary, Romney had struggled to establish a broad national base of support, uncharacteristic of a presidential candidate, Todd Purdhum, former White House correspondent and current national editor for Vanity Fair, said in an interview with The Dartmouth before the primary results were released.
“I’m hard pressed to remember any time in which the frontrunner couldn’t seem to break a certain threshold of support,” Purdum said.
Romney, who owns a summer home in Wolfeboro, N.H, received Granite State endorsements from former Gov. John Sununu, R-N,H, and Rep. Charlie Bass ’74, R-N.H. Former Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain R-Ariz, who won the New Hampshire primary in 2008, also endorsed Romney.
“It’s starting to look like it’s inevitable,” College Republicans Vice President Robert Smith ’14 said of Romney’s chances securing at the Republican nomination.
Paul’s second place finish is likely due to a large student population and a voter demographic that focuses more on fiscal issues than social issues, College Libertarians President Joshua Schiefelbein ’14 said.
Purdum and Shaiko said that Paul will not win the Republican nomination, regardless of his New Hampshire performance.
“It’s definitely Romney’s to lose,” Schliefbein said. “I think Paul has a legitimate shot for second or third overall, but Romney’s got too much money and too much steam.”
Smith said he believes that even though Paul will not win the nomination, the New Hampshire result will force the eventual Republican nominee to re-examine parts of Paul’s libertarian platform.
“[Paul’s] voters are definitely the most fired up,” Smith said. “As he gets more votes he gains more influence.”
Shaiko predicted that if Paul were to obtain strong results in New Hampshire, the outcome would especially hurt former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Penn., and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, R-Ga.
“I think Santorum and Gingrich have the most to lose in that they have to have momentum going into South Carolina,” Shaiko said.
Gingrich and Santorum finished fourth and fifth in New Hampshire, respectively, and Romney currently leads in South Carolina polls, according to Shaiko.
Santorum, despite falling eight votes short of winning the Iowa caucus, failed to gain traction in New Hampshire due to his socially conservative values and lack of campaign funds, Shaiko said.
Purdum predicted that Huntsman’s results in New Hampshire would define his campaign. Huntsman thinks of himself as the kind of candidate who appeals to New Hampshire’s large base of independent voters, Purdum said.
“He staked everything on New Hampshire because it’s where he thought he had the best chance to break out,” Purdum said.
Unfortunately, Huntsman’s tenure as Ambassador to China under Obama may have lost him votes in the voting base, Shaiko said.
“It may not be appealing to independent voters because they might also be tired of Obama,” Purdum said.
The New Hampshire primary, traditionally “the epitome of retail politics,” and characterized by town-hall style meetings, instead spawn a campaign season dominated by weekly debates and 30-second commercials, Shaiko said.
“Candidates feel like that’s their way of reaching the public,” he said.
Purdum, however, said that the large amount of attack-style commercials, often funded by “super PACs”, independent political action committees that can raise unlimited funds from corporations, unions and other groups, may have caused internal strife among Republican voters and candidates.
“It breaks the ‘Reagan rule’ of not speaking bad about your own party,” Shaiko said.
In the days leading up the New Hampshire primary, political action groups aligned with Gingrich-financed commercials that attacked Romney’s work at the private capital firm, Bain Capital, Shaiko said. Shaiko said he believes that the attacks may have hurt Gingrich, who he said has a reputation of “being seen as a whiner.”
“Advertisements tend not to work late, and I think the fact that they’re running them at the 11th hour against Romney might be detrimental,” Shaiko said.
While hardly surprised, the College Democrats were pleased with Obama’s victory and voter turnout in New Hampshire, according to the group’s president, Sam Lewis ’13. The group had sent out a campus-wide email on Tuesday urging students to vote in the primary, regardless of President Obama’s nearly-assured victory.
“I went down there and there seemed like there was a very large student presence,” Lewis said of the polling place at Hanover High School.
In the coming months, Lewis said the group plans to organize on a grassroots-level on campus and invite political speakers to address students.
The College Republicans also plan to rally around the party’s candidate for the presidency, Smith said.
In past elections, former presidential candidates have been considered top contenders as vice presidents on the ticket, despite weak performances in the primaries, Shaiko said. Yet the presidential candidate, looking for an edge in swing states like Florida and Michigan, may instead decide to choose a senator or another elected official instead of a former primary opponent as his running mate in the general election, Shaiko said.