(MANCHESTER, N.H.) — ABC News projects that Mitt Romney will win the nation’s first primary in New Hampshire, marking the first time since 1976 that a Republican candidate has won the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary back to back.
Based on the exit poll data and ABC News’ analysis of the vote in so far, Rep. Ron Paul is projected to be second and Jon Huntsman will place third.
Crowds at Romney’s gathering in New Hampshire erupted in cheers as the results were announced.
In a race in which electability was the top concern for voters, most picked the former Massachusetts governor as the GOP candidate most likely to beat President Obama. Underscoring GOP unhappiness with the current administration, exit polls showed that eight in 10 New Hampshire primary voters were either dissatisfied or downright angry with the Obama administration, mainly stemming from economic discontent.
Independents turned out in greater-than-usual numbers in the primaries, a trend that could bode well for Romney in November if he nabs the nomination. Independent voters are expected to play a crucial role in this swing state for both the incumbent president and his challenger.
Exit polls showed that concerns about electability, economic discontent and a less conservative but more divided base than in Iowa last week helped shape the New Hampshire primary.
Though experts say the race is far from decided, the Granite State has a good track record of picking the eventual nominee on the Republican side.
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