Any way you slice and dice the numbers it was an impressive win for Mitt Romney. The Post reports:
The former Massachusetts governor’s strength in New Hampshire extended to the most conservative voters, a group that favored Rick Santorum in last week’s Iowa caucus. Among “very conservative” voters Romney won about a third of voters to roughly a quarter for Santorum.
For Romney, 2012 brought a big improvement among the party base, winning nearly half of self-identified Republicans, up significantly from four years ago. He’s up too among those who see themselves as “somewhat conservative” and moderate or liberal, making up for slippage among the most conservative voters.
Romney more than doubled his share of the “strong tea party” vote from last week’s Iowa caucuses, beating other candidates among this group. In Iowa, Santorum won strong tea party backers by double digits.
He won among Catholics, evangelicals and non-evangelicals. He won among those who considered the debates important and those who didn’t. He won among those who decided on their candidate on primary day, within the last few days or last year. (He won by double digits among those who decided on primary day or within the last few days, which suggests that the anti-Bain attacks were a dud.) And perhaps most important, he won among 85 percent of the electorate that thought the economy or the budget deficit is the most important issue.
The New Hampshire turnout (about 246,000) was up from 2008 (just under 240,000). Romney’s share of the vote is higher than Sen. John McCain’s was in 2008.
As John Hood of National Review put it, "[T]here are limits to spin. It has to have some connection to facts that readers and viewers can readily see for themselves. Downplaying the significance of Romney’s early victories is foolish.”
Romney can make a gaffe. He could perform horribly in the South Carolina debates. One of his challengers could put together the Perry-Paul-Santorum part of the electorate. The race is not over, and the collapse of the other conservative not-Romney candidates certainly increases Rick Santorum’s chances to do well in South Carolina. But let’s be honest: Romney has a gale force wind at his back.
The silly meme that he had a 25 percent ceiling on his support has been discredited. A fraction of the delegates has been decided, but unless something dramatic happens to undermine the broad-based support we saw in New Hampshire and there emerges an alternative who can capture that coalition, Romney will be the GOP nominee. If you are a betting person, he’s a t 85.4 on Intrade.