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Analysis From the New Hampshire Primary

Welcome to FiveThirtyEight’s live blog of the New Hampshire primary. Polls have closed, and The New York Times has projected Mitt Romney as the winner, but we will still have plenty of statistical insights into the election.

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10:27 P.M. Calling It a Night

Our traffic statistics imply that there is not terribly much interest in whether Herman Cain will edge out Jeff Lawman for 13th place in the New Hampshire primary — so it might be time to call it a night. Stay tuned to for continued coverage.

Nate Silver

10:24 P.M. G.O.P. Turnout Pace Improves Some

One quick observation: the precincts that have reported later in the evening are showing more voters per precinct that the earlier ones, so the turnout projection is now looking slightly better for the G.O.P.

Based on a linear extrapolation from the precincts counted so far, the turnout would be about about 225,000 voters. About 240,000 voters turned out for the Republican primary in 2008.

Nate Silver

10:10 P.M. Intrade Rates Gingrich as Top Non-Romney

Regarding my question about which Republican candidate might be in the best position to challenge Mitt Romney after a disappointing finish for several of his opponents tonight, the betting market Intrade seems to have decided that the answer is Newt Gingrich.

Mr. Gingrich is now given a 4.2 percent chance of becoming the Republican nominee. That’s actually up from 4.1 percent when the day began, even though Mr. Gingrich is tied for fourth place in New Hampshire with just 10 percent of the vote.

I suppose the thinking is that Mr. Gingrich might benefit from a kind of addition by subtraction, if Rick Santorum is now viewed as not having capitalized on his momentum from Iowa and Jon M. Huntsman Jr.’s one-state campaign is perceived to have come up short.

I’m not sure I buy it, though. I think the simpler answer may be that Mr. Romney is in an exceptionally strong position to win the nomination. His stock has increased in price at Intrade — to 85.5 percent from 81.0 percent — but perhaps Mr. Romney deserves a larger bounce still.

Nate Silver

9:32 P.M. Expectations, Schmexpectations: Romney Had a Great Night

Mitt Romney, with 37 percent of the vote so far, is tracking at or slightly below the numbers projected by his polling. He’s also doing slightly worse than where surveys would have projected earlier in the month, as he was usually polling above 40 percent prior to his (very narrow) win in the Iowa caucuses.

Still, it’s been a great night for Mr. Romney so far. The race was declared as soon as polls closed, something that I suggested is a more tangible benchmark of a “good” performance than an arbitrary numerical threshold.

More important for Mr. Romney is what has happened to his opponents.

Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum are each struggling to get 10 percent of the vote. Rick Perry is struggling to get 1 percent. Jon M. Huntsman Jr. is doing O.K., but he has been campaigning full time in New Hampshire for months, and 17 percent of the vote (and third place behind Ron Paul) isn’t likely to give him much momentum.

Yes, Mr. Paul’s numbers are impressive tonight, and because many of his voters are so young, his performance could have real implications for the future of the Republican Party. But he isn’t likely to mount a serious challenge to Mr. Romney for the nomination right now, in 2012.

And yet, no Republican seems likely to drop his bid based on his performance tonight, although we’ll have to monitor the newswires over the next 48 hours.

The conventional wisdom seems to hold that some conservative opponent will eventually rise to give Mr. Romney a real run for his money. But the odds increased tonight that nobody will be up to the challenge.

Nate Silver

8:57 P.M. Turnout in G.O.P. Primary Tracking Well Below 2008 Pace

Although the polls made pretty good predictions of the election outcome tonight, forecasting turnout is harder. So far it looks like rumors of a record Republican turnout in New Hampshire were greatly exaggerated.

With 85 of 301 precincts reporting, 52,191 voters have cast a ballot in the Republican primary so far. That projects to about 185,000 votes statewide, as compared with about 240,000 votes in the Republican primary in 2008.

The drop-off in turnout looks worse for Republicans since a higher fraction of voters — about half this year, compared to 37 percent in 2008 — are independents. That means that turnout among registered Republicans could alone be off by nearly 40 percent from 2008.

Nate Silver

8:44 P.M. Intrade No Longer Feeling Huntsmentum

With 17 percent of the vote (with 27 percent of precincts reporting), Jon M. Huntsman Jr. is performing at or slightly above his polls tonight — polls that showed significant gains for him over the final few days of the campaign.

However, the bettors at Intrade seem disappointed that he did not overachieve them, which had certainly seemed possible based on his late momentum.

Mr. Huntsman is now given a 2 percent chance of winning the Republican nomination by the betting market, down from as high as 7 percent earlier today.

Nate Silver

8:38 P.M. Romney Improves Performance in Northern N.H.

In comparison to 2008, when Mitt Romney’s performance was much stronger in Hillsborough and Rockingham counties, which border Massachusetts, he is having a more even distribution of results this year.

Mr. Romney is only outperforming his 2008 numbers by 2 percentage points in Hillsborough and Rockingham. That could hold his percentage of the vote to about 35 percent statewide, since they typically account for more than half of New Hampshire’s Republican vote.

However, Mr. Romney is beating his 2008 benchmarks by more than that in rural, northern counties. In Grafton County, for instance, Mr. Romney got just 20 percent of the vote in 2008, but he has 34 percent so far tonight.

Nate Silver

8:30 The Other Primary

There’s more than one primary in New Hampshire tonight. The Republican race has been called for Mitt Romney sure, but the Democratic primary has also been called — not unexpectedly — for President Obama.

With 21 percent of precincts reporting, Mr. Obama has received 81 percent of the vote. That amounts to 10,620 ballots cast for the President so far. At this point in the counting, that’s more than any of the Republicans except for Mr. Romney.

Micah Cohen

8:16 P.M. Why The Race Was Called Early

One reason that news outlets called the race for Mitt Romney so quickly may be that there is strong agreement between the actual results so far, the exit polls and the pre-election polls.

Based on votes counted so far, Mr. Romney has 35 percent of the vote, Ron Paul 24 percent and Jon M. Huntsman, Jr. 18 percent.

The exit polls? Almost exactly the same numbers: Mr. Romney 36 percent, Mr. Paul 23 percent, Mr. Huntsman 18 percent.

The pre-election polls, meanwhile, pointed to a finish of Romney 39, Paul 19, Huntsman 17, according to our projections. It looks like Mr. Paul may beat those numbers by 3 to 5 points and Mr. Romney may lag behind them by about the same margin, but that’s a pretty good result for the pollsters compared to how New Hampshire surveys have fared in past primaries.

Nate Silver

8:01 P.M. Romney On Target for 35 Percent of Vote in N.H.

Although the New York Times and other news organizations have already called the New Hampshire primary for Mitt Romney, we’ll still be here for a bit trying to figure out just how large his margin of victory might be — and who came in second (and third and fourth and fifth).

Four counties so far have reported at least 10,000 votes. In each one, Mr. Romney is outperforming his 2008 benchmarks by 2 to 4 percentage points.

Since Mr. Romney got 31 percent of the vote in 2008, that would put him on track for 33 to 35 percent of the vote statewide.

Nate Silver

7:42 The Debates Mattered

Exit poll data is still preliminary, but according to what we have so far, 81 percent of New Hampshire voters factored the Republican debates into how they voted. Fifty percent said the debates were “very important” and 31 percent said the debates were “somewhat important.”

This would seem to bode well for Jon M. Huntsman Jr., who performed well in the last debate according to many commentators.

It may also partly explain Texas Governor Rick Perry’s failure to gain much traction with Granite State voters.

Micah Cohen

7:36 P.M. Early Results Are From Romney Country

There’s nothing to suggest that an upset is on the offing tonight in New Hampshire, but it’s worth pausing to note that vast bulk of the results that the networks have reported so far are from Hillsborough County, which borders Massachusetts and which Mitt Romney won in 2008.

So far, Mr. Romney has 37 percent of the vote in Hillsborough County, with about 20 percent of precincts reporting. He got 35 percent of the vote there in 2008.

Nate Silver

7:18 P.M. Romney’s County-by-County Benchmarks

Here’s something that may be helpful as you start to see results reported from New Hampshire: a county-by-county review of how Mitt Romney performed in the New Hampshire primary in 2008.

Mr. Romney received 31 percent of the vote in 2008, so the extent to which he overperforms (or underperforms) those benchmarks should give you a since for where his percentage might wind up tonight.

The rule-of-thumb here is pretty simple, by the way: the closer the county is to Massachusetts, the better Mr. Romney does.

Nate Silver

6:48 P.M. Typical N.H. Winner Gets 39 Percent of Vote

If Mitt Romney stays close to our forecast and gets about 39 percent of the vote in New Hampshire tonight, his performance will be highly typical for the winner of the primary.

Since 1972, the winner of contested New Hampshire primaries has gotten an average of 43 percent of the vote and a median of 39 percent.

If incumbent presidents are excluded from the calculation, the average is 39 percent and the median is 38 percent.

The average margin of victory in the New Hampshire primary since 1972 is 12 percent, with a median of 9 percent.

Nate Silver

6:20 P.M. Primary Predictions

Actual results won’t begin to trickle in from New Hampshire for a couple hours. To hold you over, here’s a sampling of what some political seers are foretelling.

Newt Gingrich seems to have at least one demographic in his corner: psychic spider monkeys. The prognosticating primate at The Staten Island Zoo, named Grandpa, choosing among six bananas, picked the one bearing Mr. Gingrich’s name. Grandpa has correctly picked both Super Bowl and U.S. Open tennis champions according to the New York Daily News, which set up the exercise.

But really, what does a spider monkey know next to a social networking site? Facebook predicted a Mitt Romney victory, according to a study by Cheryl Morris at Judging by interest in the candidates on Facebook by Granite Staters, Ron Paul will finish second, then Mr. Gingrich, then Rick Perry.

The New Hampshire Union Leader’s Garry Rayno predicts Mr. Romney to garner 40 percent tonight. He sees Mr. Paul in second, then Rick Santorum.

Washington and Lee University’s “Mock Republican Convention” envisions Mr. Romney winning with between 38 and 42 percent of the vote. It predicts Mr. Paul will be the runner-up (18 to 24 percent) and Jon Huntsman will land in third (12 to 16 percent).

And Eric Zorn at The Chicago Tribune foresees Rick Perry finishing in the single digits, performing poorly in the next primary, in South Carolina on January 21, and “suspending” his campaign the following day.

Micah Cohen

6:22 P.M. Social Conservatives in Minority in New Hampshire

A quick reminder that not all Republican voters are down-the-line conservatives: according to the Washington Post, only 40 percent of voters in tonight’s Republican primary identified themselves as socially conservative in exit polls. By contrast, 66 percent identify themselves as fiscally conservative.

It is numbers like these that help explain why Rick Santorum’s momentum appeared to stall out in polls over the course of his time in New Hampshire, while Jon M. Huntsman Jr.’s polling rallied at the end.

Nate Silver

6:11 P.M. A Pre-N.H. Snapshot of South Carolina

It’s worth taking a quick look at the current FiveThirtyEight forecasts for South Carolina before the results start rolling in from New Hampshire tonight.

A CNN poll of South Carolina taken immediately after the Iowa caucuses showed good results for Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, with Mr. Romney holding a relatively robust 18-point lead and Mr. Santorum in second place.

Newer surveys, however, show the numbers for Mr. Romney and Mr. Santorum having worsened slightly over the course of the past week as the favorable momentum from their strong showing in Iowa has abated. The current FiveThirtyEight forecast shows Mr. Romney with just a 7-point lead in the state, and it has Newt Gingrich — not Mr. Santorum — in second place.

Nate Silver

6:00 P.M. High Independent Turnout Bodes Well for Paul, Huntsman

One number in the New Hampshire exit polls is far more important than any other: how many independent voters turn out. Ron Paul and Jon M Huntsman Jr. perform much more strongly with this group than among registered Republicans, and need a strong independent presence to have a chance of staying close to Mitt Romney.

Although early exit poll data is not always reliable, so far the results look good for Mr. Paul and Mr. Huntsman. Nearly half of voters describe themselves as independents in the exit polls, up considerably from 37 percent in 2008. Most pollsters had assumed independent turnout would be in the low 40’s, so this might be an early sign that the pollsters have underestimated the upside potential for Mr. Paul and Mr. Huntsman.

It should be said, however, that Mr. Romney also has plenty of support among New Hampshire’s independents. The candidates who might be the most adversely affected by this, instead, are Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.

Nate Silver

5:59 P.M. Video: New Hampshire Expectations

Megan Liberman and Nate Silver talk about what we might expect to see in the New Hampshire primary tonight.

5:33 P.M. New England Candidates Get 15-Point Lift in N.H.

New England is perhaps America’s most tightly-knit region, and being a New Englander can substantially help a candidate in the New Hampshire primary.

But just how much of an advantage should it provide to the lone New Englander in the Republican field, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney?

In the chart below, I’ve looked at the performance of the eight viable presidential candidates from New England in the New Hampshire primary since 1972. The chart excludes candidates like Robert C. Smith, of New Hampshire, who declared for president in 2000 but dropped out in advance of New Hampshire.

On average, these candidates were polling at 17 percent in the national polls at the time of the New Hampshire primary. However, they received 32 percent of the vote in New Hampshire, overperforming their national poll standing by 15 points.

We can perform a more complicated version of this analysis if we like, but it produces the same result. A regression analysis that uses a candidate’s national poll standing and whether or not he was from New England as its predictor variable also finds that being a New Englander produces a 15-point advantage for a candidate.

Some caution should be applied in looking at the results. Relatively few New Englanders have run for president in recent years, especially on the Republican side, so the sample size is small. And being from New England can be correlate with other variables, like political ideology, that also help a candidate in New Hampshire.

Still, Mr. Romney enjoys a pretty significant home-region advantage.

Nate Silver

5:19 P.M. Demographic Insights and Statistical Findings

Welcome to FiveThirtyEight’s live blog of the New Hampshire primary. Polls close at 7 p.m. Eastern time in most of the state, although the bulk of results will not be reported until after 8 p.m. In the meantime, there should be some demographic insights available from exit polls as well as a few statistical findings that we have to share with you.

Nate Silver

Nate Silver is the founder and editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.