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New Hampshire history lesson

January 7, 2008 |  1:01 pm

Manchester, N.H. -- It once was a given: To make it to the White House, a candidate first had better win a primary in New Hampshire. And the victors in Tuesday's Democratic and Republican contests here no doubt will wrap their minds around that thought.

Intriguingly, though, the last two White House occupants lost the first time they were on the ballot in the Granite State primary.

In 2000, George W. Bush got swamped by John McCain (who's now hoping for the same short-term result but a better long-term outcome for his presidential candidacy).

In 1992, Bill Clinton finished second in the primary (he famously proclaimed himself the "comeback kid" because he had been looking at a much worse showing as the vote neared). It was Clinton, in fact, who broke what had seemed since 1952 -- the first year the primary became a serious player in the nomination process -- an ironclad link between winning in New Hampshire and winning the presidency.

Here's the primary scoreboard over the years (candidates who won both in New Hampshire and in the general election are in bold-faced capital letters; those New Hampshire victors who went on the claim their party's nomination but lost in November are in regular-face caps; those who won here but did not get nominated are in upper- and lower-case: ...

2004: GEORGE W. BUSH (R) — JOHN F. KERRY (D)

2000: John McCain (R) — AL GORE (D)

1996: Patrick J. Buchanan (R) — BILL CLINTON (D)

1992: GEORGE H.W. BUSH (R) — Paul E. Tsongas (D)

1988: GEORGE H.W. BUSH (R) — MICHAEL S. DUKAKIS (D)

1984: RONALD REAGAN (R) — Gary Hart (D)

1980: RONALD REAGAN (R) — JIMMY CARTER (D)

1976: GERALD R. FORD (R) — JIMMY CARTER (D)

1972: RICHARD M. NIXON (R) — Edmund S. Muskie (D)

1968: RICHARD M. NIXON (R) — Lyndon B. Johnson (D)

1964: Henry Cabot Lodge (R) — LYNDON B. JOHNSON (D)

1960: RICHARD M. NIXON (R) — JOHN F. KENNEDY (D)

1956: DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (R) — Estes Kefauver (D)

1952: DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (R) — Estes Kefauver (D)

-- Don Frederick