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Romney takes narrow lead in symbolic first primary

Latest update : 2012-01-10

The tiny New Hampshire towns of Dixville Notch and Hart's Location, seen as a litmus test for the Republican ticket to the White House, kicked off the Republican primary season overnight on Monday, delivering a narrow victory to Mitt Romney.

AFP - Two tiny New Hampshire towns officially kicked off the 2012 Republican White House primary shortly after midnight Tuesday (0500 GMT), delivering a minuscule early edge to Mitt Romney.

Both Dixville Notch (population around 75) and Hart's Location (population 42) claim to hold the first-in-the-state vote to determine who will run in the presidential election every four years.

In Dixville Notch, near the Canadian border, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney tied former US envoy to China Jon Huntsman with two votes each out of nine cast, town clerk Richard Erwin told AFP.

In Hart's Location, an 80-mile (130-kilometer) drive to the south, Romney won five out of 23 votes cast, followed by Texas Representative Ron Paul with four and Huntsman with two, Mark Diendorf, a local official, told AFP.

President Barack Obama, appearing as the sole Democrat on the ballot, won three votes in Dixville Notch and 10 in Hart's Location.

Dixville Notch has been holding the midnight vote continuously since 1960 at a local hotel ballroom. The Hart's Location tradition dates back to 1948 but was suspended for several years between the 1960s and the 1990s.

The two votes have not always predicted the state as a whole -- in 2008 Dixville Notch voted for Obama, but Hillary Clinton went on to win the primary.

Polls will open statewide at 6:00 am (1100 GMT), with frontrunner Romney expected to follow up on his razor-thin win in Iowa last week with a more decisive victory here, despite days of withering attacks by his opponents.

Date created : 2012-01-10

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