MANCHESTER, New Hampshire — What a difference a week makes.
Many voters, journalists and campaign workers were up into the wee hours of the morning seven days ago when the Iowa caucus went down to the wire. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney won that contest by just eight votes, but in New Hampshire on Tuesday (January 10), the margin was much wider, as the longtime GOP front-runner became the first non-incumbent Republican to ever sweep the first two primaries of the election season with 36 percent of the vote when polls closed.
Thanks to a population that includes 40 percent of voters who identify as independents, it was another strong finish for Libertarian Congressman Ron Paul . With his by-now-ubiquitous cadre of young supporters spreading the word alongside unique ads on everything from digital billboards to green laser beams spelling out his name on the side of downtown Manchester buildings, Paul built on his third-place finish in Iowa , coming in second.
After barely registering in Iowa, former Utah governor and Obama administration ambassador to China Jon Huntsman put all his chips on the Granite State over the past few months. The motorcycle-riding, piano-pounding ex-high school rocker appeared at more than 170 events in New Hampshire while his rivals focused on Iowa. And while his poll numbers slowly crept up from single digits as Election Day neared, when polls closed Tuesday, Huntsman finished in third place.
Rick Santorum might have come in a close second in the Iowa caucus, but in New Hampshire, he shared last place with Newt Gingrich, nabbing around 10 percent of the vote each. Up next is January 17’s South Carolina primary, where Romney faces a much harder contest with Santorum and Gingrich.
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