It turns out the numbers coming into Fox (and I assume to other networks as well), shown on screen during the first couple of hours after the polls closed tonight, were incorrect as to the likely percentage of the total vote represented by the vote that was then in. So when I did some rudimentary math, and said on the air that it seemed overall turnout would be down, and that Mitt Romney might not exceed his 2008 actual vote total, I was wrong. Overall GOP turnout now looks to be up some, and Romney's total vote will be considerably higher than in 2008.
I'm sorry to have misled any viewers—and I'm cheered up to have been wrong. The idea that the vote in the GOP primary in 2012 would be lower than it had been in 2008, despite there being no Democratic race this time around to draw independent votes, was a depressing one. So I'm a bit less depressed now—though I'm still worried about the overall quality of the field, about a general lack of enthusiasm, about the fact that Ron Paul got so many votes . . . and a few other things beside.
Still, now's not the time for worries. Now it's on to South Carolina, where the ball is in Rick Santorum's court. Can he leave Gingrich behind and become the conservative alternative to Romney? And can he actually beat Romney there? I think that's more possible than does almost everyone else I've spoken to tonight. But I'll grant that lots of things that are possible don't actually happen.