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New Hampshire Primary; Mitt Romney Expected to Win

Aired January 10, 2012 - 19:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The presidential race has been won by Governor Ronald Reagan of California.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: George Herbert Walker Bush, 41st president of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor Clinton is now President Bill Clinton.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Too close to call.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There it is, George W. Bush reelected.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Barack Obama, president-elect of the United States.


WOLF BLITZER, HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": The 2012 candidates are getting their shot at making history.

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "AC 360": The last votes in the first primary of the year are being cast right now.

ANNOUNCER: Tonight, round two for Republicans in "The Fight To Be President".


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Survivors of the closest Iowa caucus in history face off in the front-runner's backyard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can we do better here in New Hampshire?

ANNOUNCER: Who comes in second may be as important as who comes in first.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have a chance to change the world.

ANNOUNCER: It's New Hampshire's choice. Mitt Romney is aiming for another win by hammering the president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This president is a crony capitalist. ANNOUNCER: But Romney's opponents want to tear him down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This would be the weakest front-runner in history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't settle for someone who can win, but then can't do.

ANNOUNCER: It's a brutal battle to beat Mitt Romney. Ron Paul came close in Iowa.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom is popular.

ANNOUNCER: Rick Santorum came even closer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the campaigns say they need your help. I need your help.

ANNOUNCER: Will they go the distance or will these three candidates catch up by going on the attack?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are people out of work down there because of what Mitt Romney and Bain Capital did.

ANNOUNCER: Who will be left standing after New Hampshire when the road to the White House veers south?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Say enough, Mr. President. You are not the emperor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Folks, we are going to take America back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm prepared to take Obama on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not being led.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are coming together.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This election is about the soul of America, folks.

ANNOUNCER: It's another decision day in America and the people have the power.


BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer at the CNN Election Center. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. There's only one hour left of voting in New Hampshire and six Republican candidates are anxiously waiting for the results. Mitt Romney is certainly favored to win, but second place is up for grabs and there's an intense fight underway to be Romney's main challenger.

Tonight, our ballot cameras will show you democracy in action. We're going to speak to voters, track the ballots, and watch a small town count its votes by hand. And our campaign cameras will take you behind the scenes with the Romney and Huntsman teams working to get out the votes before the last polls close. We have the most cameras in the most locations.

Our correspondents certainly out in force including Candy Crowley and Soledad O'Brien. They're watching what's going on -- Soledad, first to you.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: All right, we're at Amherst (ph) Street Elementary School, which is where Ward Three in Nashua, New Hampshire votes. They opened the polling here at 6:00 in the morning, but they will stay later than anybody else until 8:00. That's partly because of a provision in the city charter.

They tell us they expect 35 percent voter turnout of about 4,800 registered voters. That is consistent with what we're seeing, but we have an hour to go until the polls close, 8:00, Wolf, they will close the doors and then tally results and tell us who's won -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll count down together with you, Soledad. Candy Crowley is over at Mitt Romney's headquarters. What's going on, Candy?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: They certainly are expecting a win here tonight in Romneyland, Wolf, but equally as important, who will place and who will show. And going forward from here, is there anyone who can stand in Mitt Romney's way? That's why New Hampshire voters right now are setting the table -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Certainly are, Candy, stand by for that. As always, Anderson Cooper will be with us every step of the way -- Anderson.

COOPER: That's right, Wolf. Less than an hour from now, the last open polling places are going to close. We already have results from two very small towns that traditionally vote overnight. In Dixville Notch, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman tied with two votes each. In Hart's location, Romney won with five votes. As new results come in, John King is going to map them out at the "Magic Wall" and Erin Burnett is going to break them down for us at the polling center -- first let's go to John -- John.

JOHN KING, HOST, "JOHN KING USA": Anderson, thanks. You mentioned Dixville Notch, Hart's location. They've already filled in on the map. Remember four years ago, the map showed the big surprise when Hillary Clinton surged late to beat Barack Obama. Will that happen tonight? Well here are some key places to look in the state of New Hampshire.

If you come down here to the southern part of the state, remember Mitt Romney is the former Massachusetts governor. A lot of Massachusetts transplants down here, a lot of the undeclared voters, the so-called Independents who are allowed to vote in the Republican primary. Romney needs to do well down here in this part of the state.

Over here, the most Democratic area of the state. If Ron Paul is going to reproduce some of that Iowa magic, the Dartmouth College campus will be one place he gets votes and will all the attacks on Romney this week work? Watch Manchester down in here, pretty blue- collar voters there. If the attacks on Romney as a heartless capitalist are beginning to take a toll, we will see it right there -- Anderson.

COOPER: John thanks very much. Erin Burnett has exit poll information. You got some early exit poll information, what are you seeing?

ERIN BURNETT, HOST, "OUTFRONT": All right, well here's what we're seeing so far interesting and obviously a stark contrast to Iowa, everyone. Views on fiscal issues, taxes and spending, I saw this in Manchester yesterday talking to folks. You see very conservative here, 67 percent of voters very or somewhat conservative on fiscal issues, stark contrast to Iowa though on the other category. We're going to break this down, let you know who -- where these votes are going, but when you look at social issues such as abortion, 60 percent in New Hampshire moderate or liberal, so we'll see what that means for someone like Rick Santorum tonight -- Anderson.

COOPER: Right and we've been seeing reaction to Rick Santorum on the campaign trail, very different than what we saw in Iowa in terms of social issues. Our analysts are going to help us put all this in perspective. Gloria Borger, David Gergen are working their sources, along with the "Best Political Team" here in the Election Center and out in the field including top strategists from past presidential campaigns -- a lot to cover, Wolf.

BLITZER: Anderson, thank you. Let's check in some of our reporters out at various campaign headquarters right now. Dana bash is at Ron Paul headquarters. Jim Acosta is at Jon Huntsman's headquarters. Candy Crowley, as you know, is at Romney headquarters. Candy, let me go back to you for a moment. Is there going to be a big crowd over there? You got a big room, a little room, set the scene for us.

CROWLEY: Well let me see if I can sort of step out of the way and try to give you an idea of how small this room is. There is in fact, I don't know David if you can do it, the podium is right behind me and there are going to be more people to the side and behind Mitt Romney than in front of him. It's one of these smaller rooms. I've seen for what clearly is expected to be a victory celebration.

It was even smaller than Des Moines and we thought the Des Moines room couldn't get smaller, by the way. They are here. They've got their confetti cannons. They clearly expect a win. And I will tell you that the picture will look great. And we all know that the message coming out of New Hampshire is for the rest of the country, it's for South Carolina, it's for Florida. So the picture will look great, but it is a very tight and small room, Wolf, and but -- it will nonetheless be a victory celebration.

BLITZER: Certainly we'll -- assuming he wins and we all assume that will be the case. Let's go to Jim Acosta right now. He's at Jon Huntsman's headquarters. They would love to come in second tonight. There's going to be a fight for second we assume between Huntsman and Ron Paul. JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. It is New Hampshire or bust for Jon Huntsman. He has bet big on this state. One indication of that they actually moved their national campaign headquarters to this room where I'm standing right now in Manchester. I'm joined now by campaign spokesman Jake Suski and Jake, you were telling me just a few moments ago that this nerve center which is sort of like the little engine that could, it's picked up an activity in the last couple of days.

JAKE SUSKI, HUNTSMAN CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN: Absolutely. Just a few days ago, we were at seven percent in the polls. The governor did his 160th event in this state and all of a sudden after strong performances in the debate people are really responding. They're responding to this country first moment in the debate with Mitt Romney and his message about restoring trust and dealing with our economic deficit.

ACOSTA: OK. Thanks very much, Jake, and earlier today I had a chance to talk to Jon Huntsman and I asked him about the expectations here, Wolf. He was very honest. He was very blunt. He said if we don't do well here, make no mistake, things might change for his campaign -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, we'll check back with you. Dana Bash is over at Ron Paul's headquarters right now. Dana, what's the scene like over there?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well the scene is we're in -- Candy talked about it being a relatively small room for Mitt Romney. It's also very small here. This is where Ron Paul supporters are going to be coming relatively soon. They're going to be standing and they're going to be watching the stage. We talk about the fact that Ron Paul says that he has a consistent message.

Well guess what, this is also consistent. You remember I was on the stage last week, same podium, same placard (ph), same background, even the same balloons and the idea is that he is hoping that he does better than what he did in Iowa. He did third in Iowa, was very good, but they're really hoping inside the Paul campaign that he gets a strong second because what that means for Ron Paul is the ability to raise more money and to keep the campaign going for the long haul. This is not somebody who wants to give up by any means whatsoever. I'm hearing from inside the war room, which is really buzzing as well inside the Paul campaign that they are feeling very good with the numbers that they are seeing and they feel that their message is really playing here in terms of their libertarian sensibility.

That really plays well in this "Live Free or Die" state. Before I go back to you, Wolf, I just want to give you a behind the scenes look for our viewers as well. This is -- you know you saw it back there, what we always see, the candidate on the stage. But this is what the candidate sees, the sea of cameras. This is the view that they get when they give their speech, whether it's a happy speech or whether it's a little bit of a disappointment. This is what they see. Pretty good showing of cameras here and this is pretty much what I think you would see at all of the candidate's headquarters across the state today.

BLITZER: I love it when you take us behind the scenes like that, Dana. Thanks very much. Let's bring in Dan Lothian right now. He's over at Chichester, New Hampshire. Dan, you're at a polling station. Walk us through what's going on because I see they're already counting ballots.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They are, Wolf, but in fact let's just spin around if we can. This is the box where all the ballots were in right there. They just opened up that box a while ago. They set up these tables here with 12 volunteers. Now, there are a lot of small towns around the state of New Hampshire that have decided not to do the electronic way of counting, so instead they bring in volunteers like you see here. They set up these tables.

Put a dozen volunteers and the first thing that they're doing right now is that they're separating all of the different pieces of paper and then they'll be counting the paper. They're not looking right now at the color or whose name is on there, who's on the ballot right now. They're just making sure that they have an accurate count of all the pieces of paper. Then they are separating them. They will be separating them as you've seen some of the workers here, volunteers separating the pink ones and the blue ones, pink ones being Republican, blue ones being Democrat.

It is a long process that will take about an hour and a half at these tables right here where they'll be tabulating all of the different ballots that they have. First of all, they'll separate them by the Democrats and Republicans and then they'll separate them by the candidates. The major candidates and then the minor candidates and then out loud, we will be able to witness them giving the count. There are two people here, so you always have someone backing you up. It's a redundancy system here because they want to make sure that everything that they do is very accurate and after they're done, they'll announce the number, take it downstairs, fill out the paperwork, and a police officer will take the ballots from here all the way to Concord -- Wolf.

BLITZER: This transparency is great and our viewers get a chance to see what's going on. Dan thanks very, very much. Vote results are in fact coming in and you can see the latest numbers right at the bottom of your screen. Stand by for more live ballot cams as the votes are counted. We'll also check in with our own John King. He's over at the "Magic Wall". He's tracking the votes county-by-county -- our coverage only just beginning.


BLITZER: Only about 44 minutes until the top of the hour, that's when all the polls close in the state of New Hampshire. We'll begin to potentially, potentially make some projections. We'll see what's going on at the top of the hour. I want to go to Shannon Travis. He's in Manchester watching what's going on at a polling station. Are they reading results already, Shannon?

SHANNON TRAVIS, POLITICAL REPORTER: That's exactly what they're doing, Wolf. Diane Beaton (ph), she's the ward moderator for Ward One here in Manchester and she is reading the unofficial tabulated results from the vote count here. We've gotten just so far that about 29 -- just over 2,900 votes were cast. That's less than the 5,800 registered voters in this ward and right now she's reading how many votes each of the candidates got. Let's take a moment and listen in on what she's saying.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) Stewart J. Greenleaf (ph), one, Christopher Hill (ph), zero, Jon Huntsman, 403, Gary Johnson, four, Fred Carver (ph), three, Jeff Lawman (ph), one, Benjamin Lynn (ph), zero, Andy Martin (ph), zero.

TRAVIS: So Wolf, so far, we hear -- we've only heard one major candidate so far Ron Paul, 341 --


TRAVIS: Rick Perry, 10.


TRAVIS: A few moments ago we heard that Jon Huntsman got --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mitt Romney, 927 --

TRAVIS: Nine, twenty-seven for Mitt Romney.


TRAVIS: One, sixty-two for Rick Santorum.


TRAVIS: And we heard a moment ago, 403 for Jon Huntsman. I'm going to check with my producer here and just make sure that these numbers are completely accurate. Let's take a look and see what she has here. Again, Mitt Romney, 927 from what -- again, these are unofficial tabulated, just from what the machine read on the ballots -- Mitt Romney, 927, Ron Paul, 341, Rick Santorum, 162, Jon Huntsman, 403, Rick Perry, only 10 votes cast here for Rick Perry in this ward, Michele Bachmann, four. Even Herman Cain got at least one vote cast for him here. So we'll continue to monitor the situation here.

These are very raw. They still have to go through write-in ballots. They have to look at ballots that may be (INAUDIBLE), wasn't completely filled in or if there was damage or what have you, so these numbers will definitely change and fluctuate, however, this is significant because these are the very first election returns coming in from this ward -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And you said how many people voted in that ward because if Mitt Romney got almost 1,000, that sounds probably like at least 40 or 50 percent, is that right?

TRAVIS: Yes, that sounds about right. I have here 2,904 ballots cast here in this ward -- (CROSSTALK)

TRAVIS: -- 5,800 registered voters here, so yes, 744 for Democrats, 2,140 for Republicans and 92 write-ins, so they still have to go through those write-ins, so these numbers will change, but 927 for Mitt Romney. That's a significant amount definitely -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes and it looks like Jon Huntsman came in second. Ron Paul third at least according to the numbers we heard. So what happens now? What do they do with all of those ballots?

TRAVIS: There's a lot of work still to be done. They have to count actually all of those ballots, hand count those, as well as of course the write-ins, as well as of course other ballots that might have damages or discrepancies or what have you, but from there is where it really turns interesting, where you'll see something that you'll only see on CNN. We're going to follow the ballots from that point -- from the point that they're all coalesced and put together as they make their way down to their holding place.

We're going to travel along in a car behind the car that's carrying the ballots off to City Hall and we have a really, really interesting and exclusive shot of where those ballots are deposited. I'll just tell you right now, Wolf that our viewers won't want to miss it. That's coming up.

BLITZER: All right, the polls are closed in Manchester in the polling station where you are. But Soledad O'Brien is in Nashua. Soledad, the polls are still open there. They're not going to close until the top of the hour, right?

O'BRIEN: Absolutely right, we've got about 40 minutes left until the polls close here. We're at the Amherst (ph) Street Elementary School in the gym, which is where Ward Three in Nashua, New Hampshire votes and what happens is people come in here and they do as they always do. They come and register and you can see alphabetically you can register here. If you're not a registered voter, then you have to go check in over there. And they told me they have about 100 people, Wolf, who have signed up because they were not registered voters.

Maybe they've moved. Maybe they're new to the community. Once you get registered here, you get a ballot. This is the Republican ballot. This is a mock-up (ph) of it, but there are 30 people on this ballot and what they do is they send you over to one of these little booths, which is closed by a curtain, go inside there for about 30 seconds and pick one. You pick one candidate who you're supporting and then you head over to that little black machine there that almost looks like a photocopier machine size. They're going to feed your ballot into the tabulator, it's what it's called, and that will electronically calculate who your vote is for.

And as you just heard a few moments ago, the same thing happens they calculate over the next 40 minutes all of those ballots. They box them up as they go along and then eventually they will take all of those numbers, they'll print out the final slip, they'll add in of course the absentee ballots as well and any of the ballots that have any kind of damages and then they'll give us a figure, a number. And they will be able to tell us who has won this election for Ward Three and who's two, three, and four in the race. They're going to expect that to happen probably just a few minutes after 8:00 by 8:05, 8:10, they expect to post those results right here in the elementary school -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Soledad, we'll check back with you in Nashua. Thanks very much. Anderson, so, the first votes apparently already have been counted. We heard some of the results. Those are unofficial. They still have to be made official, but we're getting the results slowly but surely. We'll find out what's going on.

COOPER: Yes, voting underway. Mitt Romney has been the front- runner, obviously in New Hampshire since day one, but it has been a volatile fight to be his main challenger. Let's take a look right now at the polling trends over the past six months. Romney took the lead, stayed there, everyone else was way behind until Newt Gingrich surged and came closer to Romney than anyone else. Now Paul, Huntsman, Gingrich and Santorum are all jockeying for basically for runner-up position.

Our panel is here, all political contributors, CNN contributors Erick Erickson, editor-in-chief for, Dana Loesch, a Tea Party activist, James Carville, Democratic strategist, Roland Martin, CNN contributor. What are you guys expecting tonight?

ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I'm expecting Mitt Romney to win. I just want to see how, how -- what the margin of victory is. Is he over or under 40 percent? Does he get where John McCain got in 2008 or does he get close to where he got and what does Jon Huntsman do? Does he come in second place, ahead of Ron Paul or is he in third? The polls showed some big momentum in Jon Huntsman --

COOPER: So for you, for you 40 percent for Mitt Romney.



ERICKSON: I would like -- if he can surpass John McCain who's at 37.7, get into the 40 percent range, then it's going to be very hard for anyone to make any sort of case that people still aren't sold on --

COOPER: Newt Gingrich earlier tonight talking to John King was trying to say 50 percent --


COOPER: -- trying to raise expectations.



DANA LOESCH, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I'm curious to see what the intensity is like tonight just like with in Iowa. In Iowa, the voter intensity was pretty similar to what it was in 2008, which doesn't bode very well for Republicans. That should be a giant red flag. And if the same is in -- with New Hampshire and if this continues to be a trend, we're going to have the exact same election scenario as in 2008 and if Mitt Romney's the nominee, Erick and I were discussing, doesn't quite have lengthy coattails. So what does that mean for House and Senate as well? A lot of stuff to be seen in these --

COOPER: It is a small state, 300,000 people.

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It is. And I've had some experience, you can get around and it's a classic thing when asked if you're going to vote for someone, some guy said well I haven't met him yet. And you know they like the subtle politics (INAUDIBLE). Just one little tidbit, when we watch these people accumulating votes and everything, those people should really come to appreciate how many people in this country work an election and how hard they work and just how genuine (INAUDIBLE). One of my favorite moments on television was after Iowa and (INAUDIBLE) those two remarkable women were and it's just people like that all over this country and it's just a good thing to remember --


COOPER: -- heroes of these elections --

CARVILLE: Yes, they are --


CARVILLE: (INAUDIBLE) little credit.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: The biggest thing for me is what will the speeches be like after the results are in? That's going to be an indication of what next week is going to really look and feel like. If Newt Gingrich comes out like Chucky from the horror film, if he continues that whole deal, if Santorum tries to pivot back to a hard social conservative message and then if Rick Perry has any kind of clue of what to do next week, that's going to be the real key. What the speeches will be after the result tonight.

COOPER: Yes, we're already getting early exit poll results coming in. We're going to get the initial read on the issues making a difference tonight. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: It's only about 32 minutes before all the polls close in the state of New Hampshire. At that point, we'll see if we can make a projection or not, but we're getting some official votes already in, very, very early in the process, only one percent of the precincts have now reported in much of the state. The polls closed at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Right now, Mitt Romney ahead with 38 percent, Ron Paul second, 23 percent, Jon Huntsman, 16 percent, Newt Gingrich, 12, Rick Santorum, 10, Rick Perry, zero percent. He got five votes. But remember this is very, very early. Only one percent of the precincts have reported. We're going to get a bunch more. That's coming in very quickly, but we got exit poll data coming in as well. Erin and Gloria are here for that. What are we learning?

BURNETT: All right, we're learning a lot. We've got a lot of categories that we're going to break down through the night, but one thing we wanted to highlight is Independents. We've talked about how important this is for the election overall and in particular for a very independent minded state like New Hampshire. Vote by party I.D., this is what you've seen today because it's an open primary, four percent Democrat, 49 percent Republican.

And we're going to talk about where those votes are going in a moment, but 47 percent of the people voting today classify themselves as Independents, so let's show you how they're going. Flickarooni (ph) --


BURNETT: First flick of the night.


BURNETT: All right and here we go. And this is pretty amazing. Dead heat here in terms of how Independents are going between Paul and Romney and Huntsman nipping at their heels.

BORGER: You know this is really good news for Huntsman because this is the real audience that he was aiming at --


BORGER: -- and this is also very good news for Ron Paul. Now in 2008, Mitt Romney got 27 percent of Independents. John McCain got 40 percent of Independents.

BURNETT: That's right.

BORGER: But this shows you that it could be a very, very good night for Paul and Huntsman in addition to Romney, if you assume Romney's going to win the primary.

BURNETT: Yes and it's going to be interesting, too, Wolf, one thing that we're going to look at as the night goes on is when we find out how people cast their vote, would they be extremely dissatisfied with other candidates getting the nomination or not, which is interesting when it comes to the electability question as well, so we'll break it down that way too.

BLITZER: These exit polls are great and we're going to get a lot more information from both of you guys. Thanks very much. Joe Johns is over at Newt Gingrich headquarters. Gary Tuchman is over at Rick Santorum headquarters. Joe, first to you, I see, what is that, Tuxedo Junction (ph) music behind you, are they getting ready for a little rock and roll? What's going on?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well that's for sure. This is a ballroom of the Radisson Hotel in Manchester. Of course this is a stop on the tour for very many presidential campaigns, some perhaps on the way to the White House. We wanted to give you just a look at some of the retail politicking that's going on here close up. We have a table I want to show you as people start to trickle in to Newt Gingrich headquarters. Even before he gets here, a whole group of people, I just wanted to go around the table and talk to you a little bit about who you voted for today. What's your name?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fred Anderson (ph).

JOHNS: Fred, who did you vote for?


JOHNS: Who did you vote for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I voted for Mitt Romney.

JOHNS: What's your name?


JOHNS: What's your name?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Natalie Lovey (ph).

JOHNS: Who did you vote for, Natalie?


JOHNS: You voted for Newt Gingrich. OK --


JOHNS: So, you're the person who's here --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I belong here, yes.


JOHNS: And what's your name?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm John Lovey (ph) and I voted for Barack Obama.

JOHNS: Oh, so -- you're married to her. She voted for Newt Gingrich. You voted for Barack Obama.


JOHNS: So, how's that working out at home?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Forty-eight years, I guess for what it's worth.

JOHNS: What's your name?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I'm Jack Pointer (ph) from Massachusetts and if I could have voted, I would have voted for Obama. But I came here, anybody but Romney.

JOHNS: I've met a number of folks like you. Everybody's kind of independent. Isn't that true, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know what Romney did in Massachusetts and so, we know who he is.

JOHNS: So, are you all going to stick around to see Newt Gingrich this evening?


JOHNS: So, as you can see, wide ranging number of opinions of the polls today, Newt. Newt -- I'm sorry, Wolf. Interesting to see how this turns out.

BLITZER: Let me know if the music starts over there, we're ready for a little rock 'n' roll here at the CNN election center. Joe, thank you.

Gary Tuchman is over at Rick Santorum headquarters.

I don't see any rock 'n' roll bands over there, Gary.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, we have lots of music playing, Wolf. As a matter of fact, a few minutes ago on the speaker system, we heard "Get Up, Stand Up" by Peter Tosh. It's a liberal anthem. And it seems a little incongruous being here at Rick Santorum's headquarters who arguably is the most conservative man in the race.

But so far, he's not here. He's expected at this country club in Manchester, New Hampshire, in about 15 minutes. He'll be speaking up here.

What we're noticing over the last several years and Candy and Dana touched on this before, is the downsizing of ballrooms. Look, this is a very tight room right here, basically the size of three tennis courts. This is the press who's here -- television press, radio press, the newspaper press. People are just starting to trickle in and we expect the candidate to be arriving in about 15 minutes. Not sure when he's going to speak just yet -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We're going to anxiously get the votes, get the results, and then we'll hear from all the candidates. We're going to hear what they have to say.

All right, guys, thanks very much.

We're getting some more votes coming in -- 2 percent, 3 percent, just went up to 3 percent. Here's what we know right now.

These are official votes: 37 percent for Mitt Romney, almost 3,000 votes, 24 percent for Ron Paul, almost 2,000, 15 percent for Jon Huntsman, 11 percent for Newt Gingrich. Let's take a look at Rick Santorum, also 11 percent, just slightly behind Newt Gingrich. Rick Perry, not doing so well, only 1 percent. This is as I say, very early, only 3 percent and you can see what's going on.

Anderson, the results, they're going to be coming in a lot more quickly within the coming minutes. I would say over the next half hour, 45 minutes, we'll get a lot more of the official votes and we're waiting for the top of the hour to see when all of the polls are closed, Anderson, in New Hampshire if -- if we'll be able to make any projections over there -- Anderson.

COOPER: Wolf, thanks very much.

Candy Crowley is at Romney headquarters. Let's go to her now.

Candy, very important to watch the percentage of independents coming out to vote. In 2008, some 37 percent of the voters were independent. From the exit polls we're seeing, it looks like the number may be higher. That could be significant tonight.

CROWLEY: It absolutely can. I brought my own little brain trust here in New Hampshire, to try to kind to parse this for us. It does look like there's a heavy indie vote here tonight.

Mary Matalin, let's start with you. Who does that -- I mean, you know, off the top of my head, I'm thinking, oh, Ron Paul. But there's other factors here.

MARY MATALIN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: (INAUDIBLE) such thing or there's only 7 percent independents, are really independents. You've got to push the lead.

So, here, you've got different kind of independents. They either lean libertarian or they lean to fiscal conservative and social liberal, that kind of different kind of every state is unique.

What I think is interesting about this state, Mitt Romney is the first Republican to win both these states. The only candidates who had previously won both these state had been campaigns that Donna Brazile ran twice and he's not going to get if these numbers hold, he'll be doing fine. But this is not dispositive, nor was Iowa.

So, everybody -- I know we're all talking about South Carolina, might be a little premature. I'm just saying for the first Republican who's ever won both these states and all the different cohorts and all the states, it's not adding up to enough to push the coronation.

All right, John. John Avlon, you're a 7 percenter.

JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's not 7 -- it's a 40 percenter. Gallup, 40 percent of Americans now independent. In Hampshire, it's 42 percent. And we're seeing independents now if the exit polls are correct, or what, you know, are being projected, almost 50 percent of the turnout. That's a big deal.

And what you're seeing in the field is this split. There are fault lines inside the independent movement. You've got libertarian conservatives, who are more naturally trend towards Ron Paul and you have centrist independents who are frustrated with the hyper partisanship in Washington, their candidate might more logically be Jon Huntsman.

Then you're going to have folks who are just disaffected, former Northeast Republicans, they might between Huntsman and Romney.

DONNA BRAZILE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, first of all, I think the independents tonight are voting their conscious. They're voting for a candidate, they hope can carry not only their campaign slogans, but carry out their agenda this year. They supported President Obama in 2008.

Tonight, they're going to probably split their vote among several candidates. I want to pick up on what Mary said about the importance of winning both Iowa and New Hampshire. You will receive -- even if Mitt Romney wins tonight, and he's expected to win, he will receive a lot of momentum going into the next few contests.

CROWLEY: Donna, John, Mary, stick with me.

From the brain trust here in New Hampshire, back to you, Wolf.

COOPER: Actually, I'll take you, Candy. The last polling places close at the top of the hour. Who's going to come in first, second, third, even fourth tonight? All of it is important.

We're constantly updating results at the bottom of your screen, and we're tracking the ballots after their cast. Could there be another Iowa-like mix up? Well, let's hope not. We'll find out.

We'll be right back.


BLITZER: It's only 20 minutes until the top of the hour. That's when all the polls in New Hampshire will be closed. We'll see what's going on at that point, whether or not we can make a projection.

We do have a lot of the polls in New Hampshire already closed. In fact, most of them. And the numbers are beginning to come in. Let's tell you what we have as of right now. Let's put it up.

Four percent of the precincts have now officially reported Mitt Romney maintaining his lead with 37 percent, almost 5,000 votes. Ron Paul coming in second with 24 percent, 3,100 votes. Jon Huntsman, third, 14 percent, 1,890 votes. Newt Gingrich with 12 percent, 1,500 votes. Rick Santorum, 10 percent, 1,300 votes. Rick Perry, only 1 percent, 87 votes.

Dan Lothian is in Chichester, at a polling station watching what's going on. What's going on right now? They're counting votes? What are they doing?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: OK. So what they have done now, Wolf, is they've separated all of the ballots here by candidates. They haven't actually started counting each one of the ballots to say here's how many you have for Mitt Romney or for Newt Gingrich. But pretty much putting them in stacks, separating them so they can then begin counting them.

So, you see all the pink ones here again. This is a reminder, these are the Republicans that we're talking about and then over here, the smallest stack that you see, these are the Democrats over here to the right, another stack. Republicans, the short while here, just a few minutes, they will start putting them together for all the different candidates and then counting them.

Now, you might be wondering at home why it is that we have this modern technology machines and they are counting by hand here in this town, as other small towns as well are doing. The reason is because first of all, no one's protested. They like doing it that way. And secondly, because they see this as a chance for the community to get together, it's kind of a social event. So they plan to continue counting by hand for quite a number of years to come, Wolf.

BLITZER: I love the old fashioned way. It's safe. It's secure. No glitches. Let's hope it stays that way.

Dan, thank you.

Let's go over to John King at the magic wall for us.

We're getting these official numbers already coming in. Only 5 percent of the precincts have reported. But are we seeing any trends in some southern parts of the state, northern part of the state? What are we seeing?

KING: Some of what we're seeing, Wolf, is important. I just want to point out, Dixville Notch, Hart's Location, they voted last night at midnight. Mitt Romney had tiny lead out of there, just to say how tiny. This was a tie. Huntsman, 2, Romney, 2.

So, the northern part of the state, remember, not many people live up here, a lot of counties. But what is significant, look down here. Manchester County is the largest county in the state, almost 9 percent of the population.

About 75 percent of the precincts, that's not the vote, it's the precinct, with 75 percent of the precincts already in in Manchester, they count fast. And look at the lead, Romney at 37 percent, Ron Paul running second to 24 percent, Jon Huntsman third at 15 percent.

This is the state's largest population center. Therefore, if Mitt Romney could start to run up a big lead here, it's harder for other candidates to catch up later, simply because when you get to the smaller counties, there aren't as many votes. Now, let's compare this -- Mitt Romney leading with 37 percent in Manchester. We go back four years ago. John McCain carried Manchester. Romney came in second with 33 percent. So, Romney not only is outperforming with 75 percent in, his percentage four years ago, he's also surpassing John McCain who use that Manchester total to build his statewide lead.

Let's go back to what's coming in. Here's another county that's coming in. It makes the point. Manchester area, Nassau, the big population centers, and you have a lot of these small counties, Chester, less than 1 percent, 0.3 percent of the state population. Romney here winning with 40 percent, 100 percent of the vote in in this county.

That's significant. You see what I mean. Smaller counties, 503 votes, just 40 percent of the vote. Again, if you go back in time, in this small county four years ago, Romney carried with it just 36 percent.

So, Wolf, one of their goals was in a place Romney won four years ago, build a little bit. One more footnote as we come back here, I just want to show, as you can see as we speak, some of the areas of the state coming in. This lighter orange color, that's Ron Paul winning in Concord, a little over 3 percent of the population.

This is the state capital, tends to be more of a Democratic. Here's a key test as we go forward, Concord, out toward Hanover. The more Democratic area of the state, more independents in the state, this is where you'll have a tug of war for second place between Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman. This is 20 percent, 20 percent right now in Concord.

If Ron Paul can hold a place like this, that would spell bad news for Jon Huntsman, if you're looking at these places. These are the places Huntsman needs to win with 20 percent. It's Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Huntsman running third.

And you come out to the map, Wolf, and look also out there, just close to the seacoast, a very small county here. Ron Paul again with 17 percent in and Dover, about 2.2 percent of the population out by the sea coast.

So, you see Romney winning in the biggest county so far. Ron Paul performing very well so far here.

Below here, below here is the battle line in this state, Anderson, and we're going to watch this one play out all night long, but the map's beginning to fill in.

COOPER: We'll see how real all night long is, whether it's really all night long like the last time or not too late.

We are still getting exit poll information coming in, new information. Will we be able to project a winner at the top of the hour? Stand by to find. And we'll get a preview of the next battleground with South Carolina voters reaction to the candidates in real time. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: Very close to the top of the hour. All the polls in the state will be closed. We'll see if we can make a projection.

Here are the official numbers we have so far. Most of the polls in New Hampshire have already closed with 6 percent reporting.

Take a look at this. Mitt Romney remains ahead with 36 percent, almost 6,000 votes. Ron Paul coming in second with 25 percent, 4,200 votes. Jon Huntsman, third, 15 percent, 2, 400 votes. Newt Gingrich, 11 percent, 1,800. Rick Santorum, only 10 percent, 1,665 votes. Rick Perry, 1 percent, he basically showed up -- basically showed up in New Hampshire for the debates and then got out there and went to South Carolina.

Anderson, it's still early, obviously. But in a few minutes, the polls will be closed in the entire state and let's see if we can make a projection.


I'm joined here by senior political analyst, David Gergen, also, chief political analyst Gloria Borger.

James Carville during the break was saying he's watching the turnout of independents very closely, 37 percent in 2008. Is that something you're watching as well?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLTICAL ANALYST: Absolutely, and it's about 47 percent now. And I think in a night when there's a lot of good news for Mitt Romney, the independent vote is the disquieting note.

COOPER: Because?

GERGEN: Because it's long been assumed that Barack Obama had -- was losing and hemorrhaging independent voters. You got a lot of them last time in the general election, and that they would be up for grabs for Mitt Romney. If Romney -- if he's basically tied with Paul and Huntsman among independent voters in New Hampshire, that means he's having trouble bringing them over.

Now, he may be able to do it later in the campaign. Over all, this is a good night for Mitt Romney. I think we're going to call it early, and, you know, there's nobody as emerging, has punched through, can really challenge him. Ron Paul is not going to get the nomination. Santorum is basically flat here.

COOPER: If Jon Huntsman comes in third, can he survive further?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it's very difficult because you head right on into South Carolina and the question is, is Jon Huntsman a moderate or is he a conservative? They're all going to be really conservative in South Carolina and then will we have the money to go on to Florida, which is a very big ticket, very diverse.

COOPER: He's really depending on tonight having a good showing.


GERGEN: And if these numbers hold, it's not a good enough night for him. If he changes, if he gets really close to Ron Paul or edges out Ron Paul. But right now, Ron Paul has a 7 or 8 points lead.

BORGER: The independent voters, so we expected the independent turnout would be larger this time because, of course, in 2008, you had a Democratic primary. And we'll have to see just how large that independent turnout is. So far, we say about 44 percent. If it gets very large, then Barack Obama may have a problem because you'll see more and more independents voting in a Republican primary.

COOPER: What's fascinating in New Hampshire, how many -- what percentage of the voters actually make up their mind in the final few days of this. And we saw a lot of them making up their minds last time, this time with the exit polls.

We are getting to the top of the hour when all the polls in New Hampshire will be closing. Stand by to find out if we're going to be able to project a winner or not. And we'll have an early read on the battle for second place. The results are coming in now.

We'll be right back.


BLITZER: Only six minutes or so until the top of the hour. We'll see if we can make a projection. We never make a projection until all the polls in the state are closed, they'll all be closed in New Hampshire at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, in six minutes.

Let's see what the official vote is right now. Ten percent of the precincts have now reported. Mitt Romney continuing to maintain his lead with 36 percent, 7,800 votes. Ron Paul, a nice second, 25 percent, 5,400 votes. Jon Huntsman, third place, with 16 percent, 3,500 votes. Newt Gingrich, fourth place, 11 percent, 2,400 votes. Rick Santorum just behind, 10 percent, 2,100 votes. Rick Perry only 1 percent of the votes, 144 votes.

Let's see what happens at the top of the hour. Ten percent of the precincts, John King, already in and you're getting more details where the vote is coming in and what clues we're getting about what will happen today.

KING: And the quick overview, Wolf, just by color. Mitt Romney is this dark maroon, as you can see, as the map fills in, more and more dark maroon filling in. I was pilloried a bit earlier by some of my New England friends calling these counties. We count votes in Iowa by counties. We count votes in New Hampshire by city and town, mostly small towns. As a New England guy, I should have had that right. My apologies.

Look here, when we last spoke, in Concord, Ron Paul was ahead, we're up to 70 percent of the vote now in Concord. One of the major population center, 3.5 percent, 3.3 percent of the population statewide, not a huge population center, but one of the larger ones in the state of New Hampshire. Mitt Romney now with 31 percent of the vote, Ron Paul in second place, Jon Huntsman third.

This is one of them where Democratic and liberal leaning areas and you go out this way toward Hanover. This is where Jon Huntsman needs to perform well to win the state or to place a strong second, running third right now, has to be a bit disappointing, although he's very close to Ron Paul there. But with 70 percent in, Mitt Romney winning in Concord.

The biggest area of the state is the city of Manchester, almost 9 percent of the state's population. Again, Mitt Romney with 37 percent. We're now getting 100 percent of precincts in.

That is your largest population center in the state. Mitt Romney winning by almost 2,000 votes over Ron Paul. That tells you, number one, Mitt Romney is performing better there.

What we're waiting for, Wolf, when we move the map up a little bit, because we're still waiting down here in the southern part of the state, a lot of Massachusetts transplants down here, a lot of undeclared or independent voters. You want to look for how these votes come in here and clear the color and bring back the map here and show you as you see it's starting to fill in, another key test, Jon Huntsman winning one county. But it's a tiny county, 11 votes, won't carry over too much strength.

Ron Paul winning a county here, again, a very small county here. So, as you wait, the population centers down here, you some of the dark.

And, Anderson, right now, right now, it looks like the map is beginning to filling in for Romney. The question will be if it goes that way, is it a big enough win, I think is likely to become part of the conversation.

COOPER: Yes. John, we'll be watching closely.

Ari Fleischer joins us, former spokesman for George W. Bush.

What are you looking at right now in the numbers? I see you've been checking your iPad.

ARI FLEISCHER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I was taking a look at the numbers from four years ago, John McCain, when he won, he had 37.8 percent last time. And Barack Obama coming in second to Hillary Clinton at 36.6 last time. So, Romney coming right around there puts himself on par what happened four years ago.

What I think is though the real big story step back is Mitt Romney won Iowa, looks like he's going to win New Hampshire. Pretty good night for Mitt Romney, you have to say when you're 2 for 2 in a two-game series so far, you're doing very well.

COOPER: And it seems like South Carolina will be the final stand for a number of these candidates now. I mean, assuming Romney wins in New Hampshire.

FLEISCHER: Well, I think for Jon Huntsman, New Hampshire is likely to be his final stand whether he knows it or not. It's kind of hard when you invest all, your everything into New Hampshire and you don't do so well, to stick around. What's your reason to stay around, especially when Jon Huntsman goes South, that's not very fertile territory for Jon Huntsman.

COOPER: And, James, you were talking about independent voters and the importance of them, not just in this race, but I mean, it really does signify what may happen in the general election.

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it does. I mean, David made the total point. I mean, an interesting number tonight is 240,000 was the turnout in 2008 -- just to see how much further north it goes. Obviously, Ron Paul, based on early things, bringing a lot -- brought a lot of people into Iowa, probably bringing a lot of people into New Hampshire. But I think -- if we look at to other numbers, we should probably look at this overall turnout number.

But those Iowa number for Republicans, I think I would call it slightly disappointing and terrible.

COOPER: Dana, did any of you expect Rick Santorum to have a bigger Iowa bounce or have an Iowa bounce in New Hampshire?

DANA LOESCH, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No. I didn't. He was running as a social issues candidate in Iowa. If you break down the entrance polling and exit polling for everyone in Iowa, abortion was the biggest issue. In fact, they prioritized that over the economy and doesn't play well in New Hampshire.

So, then we go into South Carolina, too, with that -- with the low point of New Hampshire doesn't well for us.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Then he goes to New Hampshire and gets into an argument with a college student over the whole issue of gay marriage. When you have a compressed schedule, only had seven days to make an impression, you need to be focused on the economy.

And so, I'm sitting there going, why is he even having this conversation? I mean, as if he didn't understand -- look, the economy is the fundamental issue. And a lot of evangelicals have been talking about social conservative issues in South Carolina, remember, it's one of the poorer states in the Union as well. And so, the economy will be a driving issue, even in that state. CARVILLE: (INAUDIBLE) Ari was saying about -- Huntsman earlier today basically said, "If I don't do well, I'm out of here." He was on television basically.

COOPER: You heard John King saying they do have a network in South Carolina. They have good people there, will continue on, you think that --

CARVILLE: No. I heard him earlier on our network saying make no mistake about it, I have a lot at stake tonight.

FLEISCHER: New Hampshire is not Iowa. Iowa self-identified conservative, 83 percent. New Hampshire, 55 percent. It's a moderate place.

COOPER: We're almost at the top of the hour. Let's go back to you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Anderson, thanks very much.

At the top of the hour, we'll see what we can do. We're getting new information coming in. Official results -- they're beginning to come in much more quickly.

All the polls in the state of New Hampshire will be closed at the top of the hour. All of the ballots will be counted. They'll start counting them in those precincts they just are closing at 8:00.

In most of the state, the polls closed an hour ago.