Mitt Romney improved his own 2008 New Hampshire primary showing by about 20,000 votes and is the first Republican non-incumbent ever to win both the Iowa caucuses and in New Hampshire.

But even though Romney exceeded 2008 Republican nominee John McCain’s New Hampshire share by at least 3 points and improved on McCain’s margin of victory by 12 points, Romney isn’t getting credit for a great win.

In 1996, the last New Hampshire Republican primary without a Democratic race going on, there were about 20,000 fewer votes than were cast on Tuesday. That race even included the high-intensity grudge match between Pat Buchanan and Bob Dole and ended with the Dole defeat that foreshadowed his eventual general election failure.

But even though Romney beat historical results and met or exceeded the expectations set by other campaigns and pundits, they still don’t want to give him credit for a win.

The Democrats aren’t expected to ever praise Romney for anything, but it is revealing for the GOP frontrunner that conservatives are so unwilling to credit him for anything. And it shows some of the difficulty of the task ahead for an increasingly inevitable-looking Romney.

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