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New Hampshire primary gives Mitt Romney a historic win-win (+video)

By winning the New Hampshire primary, Mitt Romney became the first non-incumbent Republican to win both the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary since 1980. Perhaps more important, Ron Paul's second-place finish kept a surging Jon Huntsman at bay. 

By Staff writer / January 10, 2012

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney waves to supporters at the his New Hampshire primary night victory party at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, N.H., Tuesday.

Elise Amendola/AP

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PEMBROKE, N.H.

Five years after launching his first bid for the presidency, Mitt Romney fulfilled a long-held dream Tuesday: victory in the New Hampshire Republican primary.

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The former governor of neighboring Massachusetts won easily, solidifying his status as the odds-on favorite to win his party’s presidential nomination. With 91 percent of the vote in, Mr. Romney led with 39 percent, 16 points ahead of second-place finisher Ron Paul.

“Thank you, New Hampshire,” Romney said in declaring victory. “Tonight, we made history.”

The win follows Romney’s narrow victory a week ago in Iowa, making him the first Republican candidate not already president to win the first two nominating contests since the Iowa GOP caucuses became significant in 1980. Romney also was on track to beat the 37 percent won by the man who defeated him here four years ago, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the eventual GOP nominee.

Watch video of Mitt Romney speaking after his historic win in New Hampshire here:

More important, Romney has considerable momentum heading into the South Carolina and Florida primaries as the best-funded, best-organized candidate in the Republican field.

“Overall, it was a good night for Romney,” says Chris Galdieri, a political scientist at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. “He won by double digits, and Ron Paul came in second. Paul doesn’t threaten Romney the way a strong performance by [Jon] Huntsman could have.”

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