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New Hampshire primary

From Academic Kids

Nixons in NH
Richard and Pat Nixon campaigning in Nashua, New Hampshire, in 1968

The New Hampshire primary to the U.S. presidential election is the first U.S. presidential primary in the United States. For more than 50 years it has been highly influential in both predictions and decisions about who will be the presidential nominee of the two major U.S. political parties.

Contents

Significance

Since 1977, New Hampshire law has stated that its primary is to be the first in the nation. As a result, the state has had to move its primary, originally in March, earlier in the year to remain the first. For example, the election was held on February 20 in 1996, then February 1 in 2000, and January 27 in 2004 to compete with earlier and earlier primaries in other states.

Before the less-binding Iowa caucus first received national attention in the 1970s, the New Hampshire primary was the first binding indication of which presidential candidate would receive his political party's nomination. In defense of their primary, voters of New Hampshire have tended to downplay the importance of the Iowa caucus. "The people of Iowa pick corn, the people of New Hampshire pick presidents," said then-Gov. John H. Sununu in 1988.

Since then, the primary has been considered an early measurement of the national attitude toward the candidates for nomination. Unlike a caucus, the primary measures the number of votes each candidate received directly, rather than through precinct delegates. The fact that the primary is based on the popular vote means that it gives less well known candidates a chance to pull ahead. Unlike most other states, New Hampshire permits independents, not just party members, to vote in a party's primary.

New Hampshire's status as the first-in-the-nation is somewhat controversial because some consider it not to be representative of the nation as a whole. It is predominantly white (96% versus 75% nationally in 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau), and largely rural and agricultural. Politically however, the state does offer a wide sampling of different types of voters. Although it is a New England state, it is not as liberal as some of its neighbors, (e.g. Massachusetts). For example, according to one exit poll, of those who participated in the 2004 Democratic Primary, 4 in 10 voters were independents, and just over 50% said they considered themselves "liberal." Additionally, as of 2002, 25.6% of New Hampshire residents are registered Democrats and 36.7% are Republicans, with 37.7% of New Hampshire voters registered as "undeclared" independents. This plurality of independents is a major reason why New Hampshire is considered a swing state in general U.S. presidential elections.

Recently, media expectations for the New Hampshire primary have come to be almost as important as the results themselves; meeting or beating expectations can provide a candidate with national attention, often leading to an infusion of donations to a campaign that has spent most of its reserves. For example, in 1992, Bill Clinton, although he did not win, did surprisingly well, with his team dubbing him the "Comeback Kid"; the extra media attention helped drive him to victory in later primaries.

History

New Hampshire has held a presidential primary since 1916, but it did not begin to assume its current importance until 1952, when Dwight Eisenhower demonstrated his broad voter appeal by defeating Robert A. Taft, "Mr. Republican," who had been favored for the nomination, and Estes Kefauver defeated incumbent President Harry S. Truman, leading him to abandon his campaign for a second term.

The other President to be forced from running for re-election by New Hampshire voters was Lyndon Johnson, who managed only a 49-42 percent victory over Eugene McCarthy in 1968, and consequently withdrew from the race. It used to be the common wisdom that no-one who lost in New Hampshire could hope to be elected President, but Bill Clinton overturned this belief in 1992, and George W. Bush did so again in 2000. Moreover, the winner in New Hampshire has not always gone to win his party's nomination, as demonstrated by John McCain in 2000 and Pat Buchanan in 1996.

Winners and runners-up

Notes: Winner is listed first. Candidates in bold went on to win their party's nomination.

Democrats

Republicans

2004 Democratic Results

Candidate Votes % Delegates
John Kerry 84,377 38.4 13
Howard Dean 57,761 26.3 9
Wesley Clark 27,314 12.4 0
John Edwards 26,487 12.1 0
Joseph Lieberman 18,911 8.6 0
Dennis Kucinich 3,114 1.4 0
Richard Gephardt 419 0.2 0
Al Sharpton 347 0.2 0
George W. Bush 257 0.1 0
Other 1,000 0.5 0
Total 219,787 100 22 (of 27)

Sources: Union-Leader (Manchester, NH), CNN, New Hampshire Department of State (http://www.state.nh.us/sos/presprim%202004/dpressum.htm)

2004 Republican Results

Candidate Votes % Delegates
George W. Bush 53,962 79.55 29
All Others 13,907 20.45  
John Kerry 3,009 4.44  
Howard Dean 1,888 2.78  
Wesley Clark 1,467 2.16  
Joseph Lieberman 941 1.39  
John Edwards 916 1.35  
Richard Boza 841 1.24  
John Buchanan 836 1.23  
John Rigazio 803 1.18  
Robert Haines 579 0.85  
Michael Callis 388 0.57  
Blake Ashby 264 0.39  
Millie Howard 239 0.35  
Tom Laughlin 154 0.23  
Bill Wyatt 153 0.23  
Scatter 1393 2.05  
Total 67,833 100 29

Sources: Concord Monitor, New Hampshire Department of State (http://www.state.nh.us/sos/presprim%202004/rpressum.htm), [1] (http://www.boston.com/news/special/politics/2004_results/), [2] (http://www.thenation.com/thebeat/index.mhtml?pid=1221), [3] (http://www.thegreenpapers.com/P04/NH-R.phtml)

2000 Democratic Results

Candidate Votes % Delegates
Al Gore 76,681 52 13
Bill Bradley 69,933 48 9
Other 1,184 0 0
Total 147,798 100 22 (of 27)

Source: CNN

2000 Republican Results

Candidate Votes % Delegates
John McCain 115,490 49 9
George W. Bush 72,262 30 6
Steve Forbes 30,197 13 2
Alan Keyes 15,196 6 0
Gary Bauer 1,656 1 0
Other 2,001 1 0
Total 236,802 100 17

Source: CNN

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