New Hampshire primary results coming in

New Hampshire primary results coming in, reporting and periodic reactions–

8-oh-not-much-and 30 seconds p.m. New Hampshire polls now officially closed, NBC et al. can pronounce that Mitt Romney is the projected winner in the state’s primaries. Percentages about where they have been, with Romney well ahead of Ron Paul, the latter solidly ahead of everyone else, and Gingrich and Santorum about tied.

Next big hurdle for the political news media: finding enough to say about Newt Gingrich’s ad campaign in South Carolina to eat up or fill up the air waves for the next couple of weeks. As Al Gore pointed out, SC governor Nikki Haley has already endorsed Romney.

More suspenseful is the Virginia legal matter. Plaintiffs’ attorneys argue in their supporting brief that the constitutional question may never have to be considered by the court. That is, the question of whether Virginia’s restrictive rules on ballot access violate the First Amendment and the 14th amendment, among others, may not have to come up at all.

Plaintiffs hold that the Virginia Board of Elections, named defendants, misapplied Virginia statute in the first place. That “may” and “shall” question.

To a non-lawyer, it does look as though that one will have to be answered. But determinations depend on the courts.

7:44 p.m. With 5 percent of the NH vote in, it’s Romney with 36  percent, Ron Paul with 25 percent, Huntsman with 15, Gingrich and Santorum close to tied at 11 percent and 10 percent respectively.

Votes in are those only from polls closing at 7:30 rather than 8:00.

‘Real’ returns to begin flooding in at 8:00.

Rick Perry’s brief and complaint look substantive, in that filing against the Virginia Board of Elections GOPers.

Of particular interest: the difference between “may” and “shall.” Plaintiffs argue, convincingly, that the Virginia statute says candidates “may” file a petition with 10,000+ signatures. Plaintiffs’ attorneys quote the statute at copious length, clarifying that the statute does indeed use “may” at some points and “shall” at others. Turns out there was a Virginia legal case, decided by the Virginia Supreme Court just four months ago, in which the court ruled explicitly that when the law uses “may” in some places and “shall” in others, the wording is to be regarded as intentional.

Funny how little of this is coming out in the ad-infinitum commentary and reporting on the primary process. Virginia is not the biggest state in the union, with the most delegates, but it is not a small state. Furthermore, it has been treated by the national media as a definitively ‘red’ state for twenty years now, notwithstanding any evidence to the contrary.

7:07 p.m. Switching channels to Current TV

Useful reminder from former Vice President Al Gore, re South Carolina as a hotbed of socially conservative et ceteras: the late Lee Atwater constructed the South Carolina primary in the late Seventies as a conservative firewall–i.e. to protect the establishment candidate. It was thought that Ronald Reagan might need some protection against an insurgency by John Connally.

Setting aside any question of how ‘insurgent’ the GOP challengers actually tend to be (aside from Ron Paul), in national elections, the fate of John McCain in 2000 is another memento mori for insurgent candidates. McCain was infamously slandered in a whispering campaign by GWBush’s people, including First Brother Marvin Bush. Thus ever challengers, in South Carolina. Huckabee went down in SC in 2008, too, but more cleanly.

6:07 p.m. First 1 percent of the votes reported, and it’s Romney out front with 37 percent, Ron Paul 26 percent, Huntsman 21 percent. Rick Santorum with zero, tied with Michele Bachmann, no longer in the race. Newt Gingrich so far with 11 percent but looking forward cheerfully to South Carolina, where the super PAC supporting him has bought more million$ worth of television ads than any other campaign including Romney’s.

To do him justice, Gingrich is one of the few candidates who appropriately defended Romney’s famous “I like firing people” comment. Ron Paul also defended Romney today, against the all-sides demagoguing on the off-the-cuff remark. Paul went farther, defending the entire Bain Capital process as capitalism at work.

Romney’s getting vilified for firing people is one thing. His getting vilified for the remark about insurance companies not providing good service is one of those sadly selfish mishaps that drag down the entire political process. It also sheds further light, if any were needed, on GOP party establishment priorities. Romney suggested, after all, that people should have a choice about insurers. He went so far as to suggest that insurers should do right by their customers. He even went so far–and this seems to have been the bridge too far–that customers can exchange an insurance company that does not do well for another one.

These ideas are not popular among GOP candidates for office. It will be little short of miraculous if they are repeated on the campaign trail. Meanwhile, for other GOPers to attack Romney for them is rather like the attacks on Rick Perry for taking a humane line toward immigrants.

Speaking of Bain Capital–

Wouldn’t it be great if the millionaires and billionaires connected with Bain Capital had joined in an enterprise to buy suffering companies and do something good with them? This idea is not to be confused with charity. A consortium could legally act as a private task force–acquire companies and re-engineer them with socially conscious objectives in view. Keep an eye on the situation of the workers, keep an eye on the environment, learn to make a worthwhile product. Is that notion considered on-its-face impossible?

Romney

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