This isn't what you might think. There were no surprises in the GOP primary in New Hampshire yesterday. Romney won by a healthy margin (predictably), with Paul and Huntsman taking the second and third spots. A weakened Gingrich barely squeaked by Santorum to claim the fourth spot, and Perry (who conceded New Hampshire in an effort to campaign hard in South Carolina) drew 1% of the vote.
As I said, no surprise there. Anyone paying attention could have predicted that spread with the possible exception of the order concerning Gingrich and Santorum.
The surprise came in the primary that no one was watching. While everyone was paying attention to the infighting and name-calling that the GOP was more than happy to provide, there was also a democratic primary held in New Hampshire yesterday. Incumbent President Barack Obama ran virtually unopposed, and claimed a hefty 82% of the vote. The important thing to notice here is that 18% of democrats went out of their way to make a statement by voting against him. 10% of those were write-ins.
For a little comparison - in 2004, George W. Bush faced the New Hampshire primary as an incumbent President. He got just over 79% of the vote. But wait, it sounds like he did worse than Obama did this year... until you realize that in the New Hampshire GOP primary in 2004, George W. Bush faced 13 challengers, none of whom received more than 1.2% of the vote. In 1992, facing one or two token challengers, Bill Clinton also won primaries with approximately 80% of the vote.
The difference? Clinton and Bush received around 80% of the vote with other candidates challenging them. Current President Barack Obama is winning by the same margins - with no challengers. Perhaps that bodes well for those that would challenge him in the future.