In 2008, McCain got about 88,500 votes to win NH. Romney got 75,500.
This time around, Romney pulled in 95,500 votes, whereas Ron Paul - America's Cranky Old Man Somehow Beloved By Young Men Who Drink Pabst Ironically - took home 55,500 votes.
By my math, about 240,000 people voted in the 2008 GOP primary in New Hampshire. Almost exactly the same number voted in the primary this time.
By contrast, 287,000 Democrats voted last time.
Barack Obama outpolled John Huntsman, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum in an uncompetitive Democratic race that I imagine few people knew was going on. (He polled about 45,000 votes).
Rick Perry polled 1000 more votes than a performance artist candidate called Vermin Supreme. Seriously, y'all!
There are two things to examine in the tea leaves of New Hampshire. First, the Granite State took a hard right turn in the 2010 midterms. The NH state legislature is now inundated with whacko Tea Party types, who have been passing some of the worst legislation in the country recently. Judging from the lack of growth in the primary electorate from 2008, NH seems a good exemplar of the idea that 2010 was about voter intensity and Democratic voters staying home. NH also has an open primary system, and without a Democratic race, how many D voters crossed over to vote mischievously?
Put another way, John Sununu was bloviating about New Hampshire voting for Romney in November. I don't see the demographic shift that allows this to happen. Obama beat McCain by 70,000 votes (out of 706,000 votes cast.) If the GOP was really that much stronger in NH than in 2008, where were the primary voters?
The second thing is that Romney came in close to the 40% threshold. This means that it really all does come down to SC. South Carolina is a winner-take-all primary, unlike New Hampshire. If a Not Mitt can win SC, they can make a strong case on the delegate math to continue, in that whoever wins SC will automatically assume the delegate lead.
Perry is toast. He can still cause mischief in a tight race, as he will likely get 5% just because he sounds like a Good Ol'Boy. Santorum is banking on all the Fetus Fetishists to push him over the top.
Ron Paul is unlikely to do as well in SC, because of his isolationism and anti-militarism.
So, will Romney's 25-30% be enough to win the day? Will Newt's assault on Bain Capital be Mitt's bane?
Ideally, either Santorum or Gingrich would drop out along with Perry to clear the field, but this is the real deciding moment. Fitting that the party that has embraced the ideas of John C. Calhoun will have his state decide its standard bearer.