Romney wins in New Hampshire; strong showings for Paul, Huntsman

Mitt Romney won New Hampshire’s primary race, with Ron Paul second and Jon Huntsman third.

A number of news organizations were projecting a win for the former Massachusetts governor in the GOP presidential primary based on early returns Tuesday evening.

With 18 percent of the vote counted just after the final polls closed after 8 p.m., Romney had 36 percent of the vote.

Paul, a U.S. congressman from Texas, had 25 percent of the vote and Huntsman was scoring 17 percent—a narrow enough gap that the ex-Utah governor could still close it before the evening was through. Romney last week squeaked out a win in Iowa, the first caucus state.

A New Hampshire win may contribute to the aura of inevitability that Romney has long sought but has so far failed to secure.

Huntsman, who like Romney is a relative moderate, had bet much of his campaign on a strong showing in New Hampshire. He told CNN Tuesday night that a third-place showing was strong enough to continue.

Paul’s relatively strong showing will do little to quell concerns among Jewish Republicans that his views, which include cutting foreign assistance, including to Israel, have gained traction in the party.

Tying for fourth and fifth place with about 10 percent each were Rick Santorum, the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, and Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Coming in last was Texas Gov. Rick Perry, with 1 percent. Perry is focusing his attention on the next primary state, South Carolina, which goes to the polls on Jan. 21.