Ron Paul Wins Youth Vote In New Hampshire

Voters under 30 help carry Paul to second-place finish behind Mitt Romney.

As predicted by the polls, the New Hampshire Republican primary handily went to Mitt Romney, former governor of neighboring Massachusetts. But as in Iowa, the youth vote tells a different story.

According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, fifteen percent of all eligible New Hampshire voters under the age of 30 took part in Tuesday's presidential primary. Paul was a heavy favorite, drawing the support of 47 percent of voters under 30, compared with 25 percent for Mitt Romney.

Paul's margin of victory in the under-30 demographic was 22 percent — coincidentally tying Romney's margin of victory among those 65 and over for the largest victory by any candidate in any single age group.

"There is no way they are going to stop the momentum that we have started," Paul told an energized crowd during his speech late Tuesday night. "I called Governor Romney a short while ago, before he gave his talk, and congratulated him, because he certainly had a clear-cut victory. But we're nibbling at his heels."

Paul addressed young voters directly during his speech, saying, "And that is the victory that you have brought about, because you have been the ones that have done the work. There's a lot of people here, but the ones across the country — the donors and the excitement on the campuses — it's just unbelievable."

MTV News spoke to several Paul supporters while in New Hampshire for its Power of 12 campaign. Keating Tufts, 21, a student at Southern New Hampshire University, said that college tuition was a major factor in his decision to vote for Paul. "We're paying more for school every single year, the tuition keeps on going up," Tufts told MTV News shortly after casting his vote Tuesday.

Others view Paul as an alternative not only to the other Republican candidates, but to President Obama as well. "I think there were a lot of disillusioned voters in '08 who thought Obama would be a good solution to the problems presented by Bush," Pericles Niarchos, 26, told MTV News Sunday night in Manchester. "And after the last four years, we've seen the wars extended, we've seen [the terror detention center at] Guantanamo Bay remain open ... the war on drugs continues on, we see bailout of the corporate elite that started under Bush. So a lot of those supporters ... [feel] Dr. Paul has a consistent record on these issues."

Paul will undoubtedly seek to build on his momentum from New Hampshire, but he faces an uphill battle in the next two primary contests in South Carolina (January 21) and Florida (January 31), where he is currently polling a distant fourth, according to Real Clear Politics' most recent aggregate polling data.

MTV is on the scene in New Hampshire! Check back here around the clock for up-to-the-minute coverage on the primary caucuses, and stick with throughout the presidential election season.