Hillary wins New Hampshire in shocking comeback
McCain wins GOP contest, Paul within striking distance of Giuliani
Very early results from Tuesday's New Hampshire primary showed a closer-than-expected race developing between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in which the former First Lady appeared headed for an unexpected victory.
Just after 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, MSNBC projected Clinton would win the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary. The Associated Press confirmed the call.
With nearly two-thirds of precincts reporting, Clinton was showing a slight lead, with 39 percent of the vote to Obama's 36 percent.
Reports on exit poll data indicated that independent voters broke for Obama, but they did not turn out heavily enough to counteract the high number of women voters who came out for Clinton.
"The women of NH gave this victory to Hillary Clinton," NBC political analyst Tim Russert said, also crediting the large proportion of independents that voted in the Republican primary for syphoning support from Obama.
Edwards vows to stay in race after 3rd place finish
Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards lagged far behind with 17 percent, according to news reports. Edwards vowed to remain in the race in his concession speech to a crowd of supporters chanting his name.
"That's two races down, 48 left to go," Edwards said.
The GOP race was over almost as soon as it began. CNN called New Hampshire for John McCain at 8:13 p.m., less than a quarter-hour after polls closed. Early returns showed McCain up 37-28 over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Once polls officially closed at 8 p.m., CNN projected that Edwards would finished in third place, based on exit polls and early returns. The network said the fight between Hillary and Obama was too close to call, an unexpected development after pre-election surveys showed Obama with a healthy lead.
Further down the GOP ticket, Ron Paul was threatening to score a coup against onetime frontrunner Rudy Giuliani. Paul was nipping at the former New York Mayor's heals with 8 percent of the vote in early returns compared to Giuliani's 9 percent. At one point early on fewer than 100 votes separated the two men, but Paul was unable to close the gap. With about 75 percent of precincts in, Paul and Giuliani maintained the same percentages.