New Hampshire hosts the nation’s first presidential primary, but this year it also hosted the first test of the Tea Party’s strength at the local level of the Republican Party. The verdict rendered by the meeting of the N.H. Republican State Party was mixed. Mitt Romney won the straw poll among presidential hopefuls, but the Tea Party-backed candidate for chairman of the state party defeated an establishment politician.
The Romney victory was unsurprising. Romney invested a great deal in the state during his 2008 presidential run and, additionally, he was Governor of neighboring Massachusetts for many years. The most populous towns in New Hampshire are all located along the Massachusetts border, and many voters there turn to Boston television stations for their news, so Romney is virtually a hometown favorite in the Granite State.