The Note's Must-Reads for Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Note's Must-Reads are a round-up of today's political headlines and stories from ABC News and the top U.S. newspapers. Posted Monday through Friday right here at

Compiled by ABC News Digital News Associates and Desk Assistants Jayce Henderson, Jacqueline Fernandez and Amanda VanAllen

NEW HAMPSHIRE: ABC News' Amy Walter: " Were New Hampshire Independents Really Independent?" The first thing that pops out at you when looking at the New Hampshire exit polls is the large number of independents who turned out to vote. Almost half the electorate in New Hampshire's Republican primary defined themselves as independent (47 percent), while 48 percent said they were Republicans. Why such a big surge? LINK

USA Today's Martha T. Moore, Susan Page, Carolyn Pesce and Gary Strauss: " Romney wins N.H. primary; Paul in 2nd and Huntsman 3 rd " Republican front-runner Mitt Romney easily captured the nation's first primary election Tuesday, while his distant rivals were already aiming at scuttling the budding Romney express before South Carolina's Jan. 21 matchup. "Thank you New Hampshire . Tonight we made history," Romney told well-wishers, flanked by wife Ann, their five sons and extended family. "Tonight we celebrate, tomorrow we go back to work." LINK

Politico's Maggie Haberman: " New Hampshire primary results: Six takeaways" It was the rare night when the pre-New Hampshire primary polls were close to the mark. Mitt Romney won - by a lot. The rest of the field was split between over performing and underperforming - in some cases, by a lot. LINK

MITT ROMNEY: ABC News' Amy Walter: " What Mitt's Win Means" A crowded field is once again Mitt Romney's best friend. Though Romney can boast of a 14-point margin of victory in the New Hampshire primary, his overall percentage of the vote was just under 40 percent. LINK

The New York Daily News' Thomas M. Defrank: " It's Mitt Romney's race to lose following stellar showing in New Hampshire primary" Realistically, the only thing that can stop Mitt Romney now are salacious pictures on Twitter. Not likely for the strait-laced ex-Massachusetts governor. Even a string of fresh tone-deaf goofs like Monday's "I love to fire people" aren't likely to derail Romney's quest after his comfortable Granite State margin. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Mark Z. Barabak and Paul West: " Mitt Romney celebrates New Hampshire primary victory" Mitt Romney rolled to a convincing victory in the New Hampshire primary, taking a broad stride toward capturing the GOP presidential nomination as the contest heads south for a pair of potentially make-or-break contests. The win Tuesday gave Romney a one-two sweep in the leadoff voting of the 2012 campaign, a first for any Republican apart from a sitting president, as the race moved to South Carolina and Florida. LINK

RON PAUL: The Washington Times' Seth McLaughlin: " Paul backs Romney's record at Bain Capital" Rep. Ron Paul of Texas came to the defense of Mitt Romney on Tuesday, saying his Republican presidential rivals are selling out basic free-market conservative principles when they criticize the former Massachusetts governor's time at the helm of Bain Capital. LINK

JON HUNTSMAN: The Hills' Emily Goodin: " Huntsman insists he's staying in race despite third-place NH finish" Jon Huntsman says he's staying in the GOP presidential race despite finishing third in New Hampshire's primary. "I'd say third place is a ticket to ride. On to South Carolina," he told supporters at his election-night party. LINK

SOUTH CAROLINA: The New York Times' Jim Rutenberg: " In South Carolina, Challenges Await on Ideology and Faith" Mitt Romney has now defied a generation of political gravity, doing what no non-incumbent Republican has done since 1976, winning the one-two states of Iowa and New Hampshire in his quest for the party's presidential nomination. LINK

The Washington Post's Peter Wallsten and Karen Tumulty: " Conservative activists scrambling for a strategy to block Romney" A near-panic has taken hold among some core conservative activists, who are now scrambling to devise a strategy to deny Mitt Romney the Republican presidential nomination. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEOS: " Ron Paul 'We are dangerous to the status quo'" LINK " Newt Gingrich Says Campaign Will Go On To S.C." LINK " Rick Santorum: We Knew N.H. Would Be Tough" LINK

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