- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 10, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Voters in other states will decide whether Sen. John McCain and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the winners of the New Hampshire primaries, will go on to win the nominations of the Republican and Democratic parties. For now, it is worth noting what a remarkable and crucial role New Hampshire has played since 1952 in selecting not just the nominees of both parties but the eventual presidents as well.

When nearly 50,000 New Hampsherites wrote the name of Dwight Eisenhower on the Republican ballot in the 1952 primary, the general upset Sen. Robert A. Taft of Ohio, who had been unchallenged for decades as “Mr. Republican.” Mr. Eisenhower became the first of several New Hampshire primary winners in the postwar era to take the White House. Twelve times between 1952 and 2004 the winner of a New Hampshire primary was elected president.

They defeated winners of opposing primaries, of course, but the eventual presidents included Mr. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy in 1960, Lyndon Johnson in 1964, Richard Nixon in 1968 and 1972, Jimmy Carter in 1976, Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984, George H.W. Bush in 1988, Bill Clinton in 1996 and George W. Bush in 2004.

Marginal protest candidates have made a bit of a splash, too, such as Paul McCloskey (antiwar) and John Ashbrook (conservative) in 1972, when Richard Nixon won it all. The only two uncontested Republican winners were President Reagan in 1984 and President George W. Bush in 2004. President Clinton became the only Democrat to win an “uncontested” New Hampshire primary and then the White House in 1996.

Since 1952, only two candidates were defeated in New Hampshire and went on to win the White House. Mr. Clinton, the original “Comeback Kid,” actually finished in second place, 9 points behind Paul Tsongas in 1992. Eight years later, George W. Bush captured the White House after losing the New Hampshire primary to Mr. McCain by nearly 20 points.

In two other New Hampshire primaries, an incumbent president was forced to withdraw following a poor showing. In 1952 Sen. Estes Kefauver of Tennessee forced the retirement of Harry S. Truman, and in 1968, more than 27,000 New Hampshire voters wrote in the name of President Johnson, blunting the primary challenge of Sen. Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota. Sen. Robert Kennedy entered the race a few days later, effectively forcing Mr. Johnson to withdraw.

In contrast to New Hampshire, only two presidential candidates (Jimmy Carter in 1976 and George W. Bush in 2000) managed to capture the White House after winning contested caucuses in Iowa, which began in 1972. And, technically, Mr. Carter finished behind “uncommitted” in 1976.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide