ABC News projects Mitt Romney wins New Hampshire primary

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mitt Romney won 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.

In a race in which electability was a top concern for voters, most picked former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney 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

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.

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.

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. They have chosen the eventual nominee four out of six of the past contests.

Romney led in one recent poll by 24 points. The former Massachusetts governor was the overwhelming favorite to win New Hampshire, and he used his last campaign stop there to take aim at President Barack Obama.

"This president's attitude about this is 'Well, it could be worse.' It's not my view," said Romney. "I have a very different view about America. I believe we can put back to work people that are out of work. I believe that we can become the job-creating machine we once were."

But Romney's ill-timed slip on the campaign trail on Monday potentially contradicts his promise to create more jobs.

"I like being able to fire people who provide service to me," said Romney. He argued that his comments were taken out of context, and that he was trying to make the case that Americans should be able to choose their own health insurance companies.

And that comment came at the heels of another remark the GOP frontrunner made about pink slips, saying "I know what it's like to worry about whether or not you're going to get fired. There are times when I wondered if I was going to get a pink slip."

His Republican rivals used the remarks to show how out-of-touch the multi-millionaire may be to Americans.

"Governor Romney enjoys firing people, I enjoy creating jobs," said Huntsman.

"Now, I have no doubt that Mitt Romney was worried about pink slips -- whether he was going to have enough of them to hand out," said Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

ABC News contributed to this story.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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