Results are still coming in, and Ron Paul is at 24% with 58% reporting, but it’s not too early to say that my forecast was wrong. When you examine the town-by-town results, the towns that have reported are exactly average for Ron Paul, according to their 2008 results. So I predict Paul will finish with 24%, perhaps 23.5%, when all votes are counted. All in all, this result is outside the margin of error of most polls and suggests either that Paul had undetected last-minute conversions, or that pollsters systematically undercounted Paul supporters, who tend to skew young (and toward cellphone-only households). I think Huntsman has to be disappointed with being so soundly beaten back into third place, Romney’s somewhat anemic 14-point victory has to be disappointing to him as well, and obviously Paul supporters will be thrilled with the results.
Update: My friends in NH are reporting anecdotes of registered Democrats trying to vote for Ron Paul, only to find that they had to be registered Undeclared. Write-ins in the Democratic primary are running at about 10% right now. How many of those are for Ron Paul? One story of shenanigans at a polling place (caution: this is second-order hearsay):
A friend just relayed his experience at ward 2 Manchester. He is a new registered voter. He brought his registration slip to the man with the ballots. The man took his registration slip and then asked “Are you sure you aren’t a Democrat?” to which my friend replied “yes”. Then the man said “you know you can be independent, right?” and again my friend said “yes”. Then the man said “you’re absolutely sure you want to vote Republican?” My friend said “Yes, I’m Ron Paul Sure!”. The man turned bright red, hesitated, then placed the Republican ballot on the table rather than handing it to my friend!