OK, with [96%] of the vote in we can maybe start to look at the results and get some meaningful data out of them. Apologies if any of this sounds loopy: the cold that took over the rest of my family last week finally hit me, so anything weird that I say is the medication. Also... you'll note that I avoided being rude about the actual Republicans running for office (Ron Paul can be included as one just as soon as he promises to support my party's eventual nominee); I really suggest that the triumphalism be kept down to a dull roar.
So... right now it appears that Romney and Santorum are pole-positioning for first place with 25% of the vote each; Romney was ahead earlier, Santorum is ahead as of this moment, and that may flip back and forth. Given that the difference in their vote total is unlikely reach four digits, both campaigns will probably credibly claim a win if Romney ends up with the higher vote total. Rick Santorum is having the best night of his political life, and I figure that we can let him have it before we start pointing out anything problematical; Mitt Romney is probably already focused on New Hampshire.
Ron Paul... came in third, thank God. If you're wondering why he's unequivocally in third place when the polling had him tied for first, it's probably because most of the polling showing Paul ahead or tied under-counted the Republican vote, over-counted the Democratic/Independent one, or both (the actual entrance polling had it at 75/2/23 R/D/I). This hurts the heck out of Paul's chances; and, again, thank God.
Gingrich/Perry: there's going to be calls for candidates to drop out (nobody's going to bother trying to get Ron Paul to do it, of course); and Gingrich is going to be able to point to his fourth-place finish to argue about why it should be Perry who does so. Speaking as a Perry supporter I still think that he's the best choice that we have*, so I'm not done until he's done; but the non-jackasses who point to his fifth place showing as an argument for why Perry should drop actually do have an argument. Gingrich has a lifeline, and we'll see how that affects him in the next two states.
Bachmann... it's over, Rep. Bachmann. I'm sorry. Time to start on your re-election campaign for Congress.
Huntsman wasn't ever in this race to begin with.
And, in general: New Hampshire is stereotypically eager to put a metaphorical thumb in the eye of Iowa over these things. Blessed if I know whether that means giving Romney or Santorum the win, though.
*After the debacle of 2008 it's going to be a long time before I support a candidate for President who hasn't been a governor. Preferably one who has won re-election.