A dark-horse candidate is surging to a strong finish in New Hampshire

NBC News: John Kasich Takes 2nd in NH
NBC News: John Kasich Takes 2nd in NH

Republican presidential candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) performed better than expected in the New Hampshire primary Tuesday.

With about one-quarter of precincts reporting, Kasich is standing in second place behind declared primary winner Donald Trump. He had about 15% of the vote.

Fox News, NBC, and ABC have all projected that Kasich will finish in second.

See photos of Kasich through the years:

The Ohio governor, a moderate outsider who has been competing with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida), and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) for one of the runner-up finishes, finished eighth at the Iowa caucuses with 1.9% of the vote. But his campaign invested significant resources in New Hampshire.

"Governor Kasich is now the leading governor in the race and the only one with a realistic chance at the nomination," senior Kasich campaign strategist John Weaver said in a statement. "He showed that a conservative with a positive message will succeed and, in fact, that's the only way for Republicans to win the White House. As the governor of Ohio he knows how to do it."

And Kasich campaigned hard in the Granite State. He made the most appearances in the state out of any Republican candidate, The New York Times noted this week.

It's unclear, however, whether the New Hampshire success will mean much for Kasich in the long term.

As The Times pointed out: "Though a number of past presidential nominees have gained momentum from a strong showing in New Hampshire — among them, Ronald Reagan in 1980, George Bush in 1988, McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012 — all had a national organization far superior to those of Kasich and Christie."

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