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NBC is already calling it with 17% reporting, and it would definitely be difficult for anybody to catch up in such a divided field. Too many candidates taking away votes from each other.

The numbers…

  1. Mitt Romney – 35%
  2. Ron Paul – 25%
  3. Jon Huntsman – 17%
  4. Newt Gingrich – 11%
  5. Rick Santorum – 10%
  6. Rick Perry – 1%

Here’s what the exit polling suggests about those who supported Mitt:

Romney won with a coalition of those who thought electability and the economy were most important, as well as wealthy voters. Just over a third of voters in today’s primary said a candidate’s ability to beat President Obama was the top issue in deciding their vote, according to exit poll data available at 8 p.m. ET. Of those voters, 59 percent went for Romney.

Voters who said they were concerned about the economy also sided with Romney, who also won self-described conservatives and even Tea Party voters – two blocs that had seemed disinclined to support Romney in last week’s Iowa caucus, in which Romney scraped by with an 8-vote win. Sixty-one percent of voters said the economy was their top issue. Of them, 42 percent went for Romney.

So…the lingering question…will it be enough?

Back in 2008, Mitt got 32% of the vote and McCain got 37%. So while this 35% is 10 points better (if it holds up) than Ron Paul’s take, it’s not as impressive as him blowing away the field.

Also, what’s more impressive? Romney getting 35% when he got 35% last time or Ron Paul getting 25% when he got 7% in 2008? That’s a massive jump and the same can be said for Paul’s run in Iowa, which went from 10% in 2008 to 21% in 2012. Romney didn’t even reach 26% in 2012 in Iowa, which was his 2008 total.

Regardless, New Hampshire is over and South Carolina is next. Look for a lot of these candidates to mount their last stand. Personally, I think Huntsman may bow out after this, and Rick Perry should…but he probably won’t. So you’ll have a lot of negative ads directed at Romney and his Bain years, with Gingrich being the biggest spender.

Interesting times ahead…

More as it develops…

  • cranky critter

    Oops Perry will likely drop out after failing to make a sound in SC. Gingrich has been over for 2 weeks but will stay in for awhile on vanity alone. Santorum will probably get a bump in SC and then fade quickly after that.

    I think Huntsman now stays in until at least the next purple state primary. Paul’s going to stay in the whole way.

    But IMo it was over when Romney won Iowa.