8:00 AM EST
With 95% of precincts reporting, its clear that Romney blew away the competition. In a preliminary count, Romney will pick up seven delegates, while Ron Paul will win three, and Jon Huntsman will take the remaining two.
8:52 PM EST
Rick Perry is out with a statement trying to put a bow on his awful showing in New Hampshire, saying that he wasn’t competing there and that he is banking on a strong finish in South Carolina. “South Carolina is the next stop. I have a head start here, and it’s friendly territory for a Texas governor,” the statement reads.
8:38 PM EST
Romney gave his victory speech minutes ago, dropping a string of one-liners and red meat aimed that generated huge applause from the crowd. Sticking to themes he and the other candidates have hit repeatedly in this campaign, Romney talked frequently of American exceptionalism and accused President Obama of tanking the economy and “look[ing] to Europe” for solutions.
8:22 PM EST
MSNBC is reporting that Jon Huntsman’s campaign says the candidate will not drop out despite a disappointing finish in New Hampshire. Huntsman has been polling under 5% in South Carolina, which will hold the next primary.
8:18 PM EST
Fox News is now projecting that Ron Paul will finish in second place. Jon Huntsman looks poised for third.
8:08 PM EST
It’s still very, very early, but the gap between Romney and Ron Paul is much smaller than the 30-point gaps Romney was posting in polls over the past year. That could change by the time all the votes are tallied. But if Romney wins by a slimmer margin than was commonly expected, look for that meme — that Romney is a paper tiger— to keep popping up in the upcoming contests
8:00 PM EST
And there it is. MSNBC has just now called it for Mitt Romney at eight o’clock on the nose. Now it’s just a race for positioning behind him as the campaigns head to South Carolina.
7:30 PM EST
Barely one per cent of precincts are reporting, but Romney is posting a huge early lead with 38% of the vote. Ron Paul is in second at 23%, with Huntsman in third with about 16%.
Barring some act of god, it seems like a done deal that the networks are going to call it for Romney right at 8 PM ET, when the last polls close in the New Hampshire primary.
Our Michael Brendan Dougherty is on the ground at the Huntsman party, and based on what he’s hearing it will be Romney with around 35% of the vote, and then Paul and then Huntsman in 2nd and 3rd, with everyone else well off that lead pack.
Obviously we’re not 100% sure what the networks will do, and there could be hanging chads or whatnot, but at the moment, this looks to be the story.