GOP presidential candidates wasted no time flocking to New Hampshire after last week's Iowa caucuses, with Mitt Romney leading in the polls and his rivals making frantic attempts to shift the tide and chip away at his advantage.
In the end however, Romney emerged the clear victor while still managing to leave lingering uncertainty about how strong of a frontrunner he is. And so the GOP candidates, all of whom said on Tuesday night that they would remain in the race, will continue their mad dash in 11 days, when voters in South Carolina get their chance to help pick the GOP's general election contender in an open primary.
Who came out a winner and who came out a loser in the New Hampshire primary? Click through the slideshow below and vote.
He might not be dropping out, but Huntsman certainly did worse than he had hoped. After skipping out on the Iowa caucuses completely in order to focus his campaign on New Hampshire, Huntsman finished third on Tuesday, around 20 percentage points behind first-place finisher Mitt Romney. Despite this, however, Huntsman claimed that his campaign was "comfortable" and "confident" Tuesday night, saying that his performance constituted a "ticket to ride" in South Carolina. "We go south from here," Huntsman told CNN after polls closed, suggesting that he was ready to head to the Palmetto State, which will hold its primary next Saturday. A survey conducted there Tuesday showed comedian Stephen Colbert polling above Huntsman.
While Romney was unable to break the 40-percent mark on Tuesday -- a threshold that would likely have proved to skeptics that the Republican base was seriously prepared to coalesce around him -- he nonetheless became the first non-incumbent GOP presidential candidate to win both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. It's a victory for Romney, but it comes with a caveat: Romney is a former moderate governor of New Hampshire's neighbor. He had a strong showing there in 2008, and he has effectively been campaigning there ever since. Anything other than a first-place finish would have been a massive bomb for the Romney campaign. He may have taken gold in the New Hampshire primary, but he failed, at least for another contest, to eliminate lasting doubts that he is the GOP's man.
Rampaging reporter hordes became even less popular than usual in New Hampshire, where the media racked up an impressive number of ways to ruin the lives of bystanders over the past week. On the last day of the campaign alone, crowds of journalists nearly trampled Mitt Romney and led Newt Gingrich on a confused walk from his campaign bus to ... his campaign bus. Elsewhere in the state, reporters forced the cancellation of a Ron Paul event, crowded out New Hampshire voters, and prompted at least one angry business owner to ban GOP hopefuls from his doors.
The Huffington Post's Howard Fineman analyzes Romney's victory in the Granite State in a 2012 general election context, pointing out that the former Massachusetts governor is likely to be the strongest candidate to challenge Obama for New Hampshire's four electoral votes: New England is now a Democratic presidential-election bastion, but if Romney is the nominee, the Republicans will have a chance to make a contest of it -- and force Obama to spend time and money -- both here and across the border in Massachusetts. Even without the longtime personal ties -- the home on New Hampshire's Lake Winnipesaukee and so on -- Romney will have some room to reach out to independent voters here and counter Democratic efforts to portray him as a threatening figure. The political past he tried to obscure or explain away -- the one in which he worked with Democrats to pass all kinds of legislation in Boston -- could be a selling point, or at least a shield. Read more here.
As the GOP candidates, campaign staffers, the national media and political tourists flooded New Hampshire in the week leading up to the primary, businesses stood to profit from the influx of new customers. Candidates frequently make stops at restaurants, bars and shops in New Hampshire towns, and with so many visitors around, there are plenty of mouths to feed. Local news outlets like WMUR reported on the business boomlet, and found that some restaurants had enacted extended hours to accommodate the out-of-town crowd. Not all businesses were happy with the crowds, however. A diner in Portsmouth posted a sign out front that said "No Politicians, No Exceptions."
Mitt Romney has been the king of endorsements in this election season, but his big-name surrogates fell flat in New Hampshire. Former rival John McCain appeared unsure of who, exactly, he'd endorsed: At one event, he accidentally bashed Romney for backing earmarks, and then later confused him with President Obama. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had a more controversial moment on the campaign trail, making a crude sexual remark to female protestors while Romney was on stage.
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