February 11, 1996 in Nation/World

New Hampshire Is Indicator State Better Record Than Iowa For Picking President

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Forget Iowa.

Ignore the hype that network television and national political writers will dish out today and Monday.

Take a pass on all those stories about the flannel-clad residents of the Hawkeye State trudging through the snow to a living room in Dubuque or Cedar Rapids or Council Bluffs so they can stand up in a caucus for a candidate.

Pay attention to New Hampshire.

Since 1952, only Bill Clinton won the White House without winning New Hampshire.

Clinton lost in Iowa, too, so on that score, the two contests are even.

New Hampshire is the place where face-to-face presidential politics got its start. For 11 election seasons, White House hopefuls, and sometimes presidents, have wandered the malls, mill towns and village greens to talk with voters.

Granite State voters killed re-election plans for Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson, derailed Ed Muskie and signaled bad times ahead for Barry Goldwater and Walter Mondale.

“The primary gives candidates a chance to try out different issues to see how they play with the public,” said Michael Kuhn, a professor of communications at the University of New Hampshire, who is studying the 1996 primary.

Candidates can discard messages that don’t work and refine the issues that do, Kuhn said.

Iowa, which will hold caucuses Monday, has attempted to copy this model of what some call “retail politics.” But the towns are more spread out, the plane connections from Washington, D.C., more circuitous and the selection process more Byzantine.

The caucuses’ track record is also poor. Many Iowans yammer about 1976, when a little-known former governor from Georgia stole the hearts and minds of a few thousand caucusgoers, and went on to become president.

But history suggests the Jimmy Carter model for presidential success was a fluke.

Since Carter, many candidates who won in Iowa did not become president, or even their party’s nominee for president. In several cases, the winners in Iowa were out of the race a month later.

Caucuses often test candidates’ ability to organize the party faithful rather than their ability to appeal to the general public, Kuhn said.

New Hampshire remains the first place where voters walk into a booth and mark a secret ballot for a candidate.

By Feb. 20, it may seem like every New Hampshire voter has been interviewed three times on CNN, answered six telephone surveys and been profiled by The New York Times.

Like many states, Washington has tried to move away from caucuses and toward the primary system. This year, the state is stuck somewhere in between.

Democrats will flout state law, and obey party rules, by selecting all their delegates based on the caucuses. They will ignore the results of the March 26 primary, even though it will almost certainly yield the same result: All delegates will be for Clinton.

Republicans will choose half their delegates based on the caucus results, and half based on the primary results.

That could produce some interesting splits in delegates if some candidates falter in the three weeks between the caucus and the primary.

But without a track record of being a must-win state, Washington can be ignored by candidates if it doesn’t fit into the schedule.

On the other hand, Washington could be a key state in the fall, attracting regular visits by both parties’ nominees. Hardly any candidate will venture back to New Hampshire after its primary is over.

, DataTimes MEMO: Changed from the Idaho edition.

Two sidebars appeared with the story: 1. PRIMARY OR CAUSUSES? Here’s a look at the track records of the “first-in-the-nation” caucuses which debuted in 1972, and the “first-in-the-nation” primary from 1952. Decide for yourself which is more important to watch. 1952 Democrat Estes Kefauver beat President Truman in New Hampshire, convincing Truman to drop out of the race. Dwight Eisenhower, who wasn’t even an official GOP candidate, beat Robert Taft for the Republican nomination. 1956 Despite a heart attack the previous year, Eisenhower easily won the GOP nomination. Richard Nixon got nearly 23,000 write-in votes for vice president, prompting Ike to announce he would keep Nixon on the ticket. Kefauver beat Adlai Stevenson, the Democrat’s eventual nominee. 1960 John Kennedy began his campaign with a win in New Hampshire. Nixon won the GOP nomination easily. 1964 Lyndon Johnson won in a walk; Henry Cabot Lodge, a write-in candidate, beat Barry Goldwater for the GOP primary, foreshadowing problems Goldwater would have in November. 1968 A few weeks after the Tet offensive and just days after U.S. military requested an extra 200,000 troops for vietnam, anti-war candidate Gene McCarthy received 42 percent of the vote, convincing LBJ not to seek re-election. Nixon easily defeated Nelson Rockfeller. 1972 Iowa: In the first modern caucuses, Sen. Ed Muskie outpolled Sen. George McGovern, but the real winner among Democrats was nobody - the largest share of delegates were uncommitted. Republicans didn’t caucus. N.H.: Muskie was expected to win handily, but his reaction to attacks on his wife’s character (he was pictured crying in the snow outside the offices of the Manchester newspaper) cost him votes. Second-place finisher George McGovern went on to become the Democratic nominee. Nixon had no serious challenger. 1976 Iowa: Jimmy Carter topped the Democratic field and incumbent Jerry Ford barely beat Ronald Reagan among the Republicans. N.H.: Carter’s showing in Iowa produced the first “bump” that led to a surprise victory in New Hampshire. Ford received less than half the votes because of a strong Reagan challenge. 1980 Iowa: Republicans picked Bush and ignored Ronald Reagan, who refused to participate in debates. Democrats went for Carter and turned thumbs down on Edward Kennedy. N.H.: Carter beat Kennedy. Reagan, whom many considered too old to be president until his vigorous showing in GOP debates, beat Bush. 1984 Iowa: Former Vice President Walter Mondale received nearly half the Democratic delegates. Republicans didn’t have to caucus, they were all for Reagan. N.H.: Sen. Gary Hart pulled a surprise upset of Mondale in the Democratic primary, and even picked up a few votes against Reagan in the GOP primary. 1988 Iowa: Bush finished an embarassing third, behind Bob Dole and Pat Robertson. Dick Gephardt of Missouri and Paul Simon of Illinois led a field of eight Democrats. N.H.: Bush beat Dole, who refused to sign a pledge not to raise taxes. Massachusetts Gov. Mike Dukakis overran Gephardt and the other Democrats. Each winner became his party’s nominee. 1992 Iowa: Democrats went for Tom Harkin, but because that was his home state, nobody cared. Bush didn’t have a serious challenge. N.H.: Bush won the GOP primary, but in a sign of trouble ahead, faced a stiff challenge from Pat Buchanan. Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts won the Democratic primary, with Clinton finishing a strong enough second to claim he made a comeback. SOURCE: Staff research by Jim Camden

2. NW QUESTIONS HEADING EAST When the presidential candidates focus on New Hampshire, the concerns of the rest of the country often disappear from view. This year, The Spokesman-Review will try to get candidates to address Northwest issues while they seek Northeast votes. The newspaper polled voters about issues important to them. It also asked readers to call Cityline with questions they want asked. Armed with that information, political reporter Jim Camden heads for the Granite State this week in search of candidates and answers. He’ll check Cityline all week for more questions, so call (509) 458-8800 in Washington or (208) 765-8811 in Idaho, then press 9893 to leave a message. Next Sunday, he will report on whether the New Hampshire primary lives up to its reputation as the place where the candidates answer the questions of average people. And, if they do, what do they have to say about issues important to this side of the country? - Jim Camden

Changed from the Idaho edition.

Two sidebars appeared with the story: 1. PRIMARY OR CAUSUSES? Here’s a look at the track records of the “first-in-the-nation” caucuses which debuted in 1972, and the “first-in-the-nation” primary from 1952. Decide for yourself which is more important to watch. 1952 Democrat Estes Kefauver beat President Truman in New Hampshire, convincing Truman to drop out of the race. Dwight Eisenhower, who wasn’t even an official GOP candidate, beat Robert Taft for the Republican nomination. 1956 Despite a heart attack the previous year, Eisenhower easily won the GOP nomination. Richard Nixon got nearly 23,000 write-in votes for vice president, prompting Ike to announce he would keep Nixon on the ticket. Kefauver beat Adlai Stevenson, the Democrat’s eventual nominee. 1960 John Kennedy began his campaign with a win in New Hampshire. Nixon won the GOP nomination easily. 1964 Lyndon Johnson won in a walk; Henry Cabot Lodge, a write-in candidate, beat Barry Goldwater for the GOP primary, foreshadowing problems Goldwater would have in November. 1968 A few weeks after the Tet offensive and just days after U.S. military requested an extra 200,000 troops for vietnam, anti-war candidate Gene McCarthy received 42 percent of the vote, convincing LBJ not to seek re-election. Nixon easily defeated Nelson Rockfeller. 1972 Iowa: In the first modern caucuses, Sen. Ed Muskie outpolled Sen. George McGovern, but the real winner among Democrats was nobody - the largest share of delegates were uncommitted. Republicans didn’t caucus. N.H.: Muskie was expected to win handily, but his reaction to attacks on his wife’s character (he was pictured crying in the snow outside the offices of the Manchester newspaper) cost him votes. Second-place finisher George McGovern went on to become the Democratic nominee. Nixon had no serious challenger. 1976 Iowa: Jimmy Carter topped the Democratic field and incumbent Jerry Ford barely beat Ronald Reagan among the Republicans. N.H.: Carter’s showing in Iowa produced the first “bump” that led to a surprise victory in New Hampshire. Ford received less than half the votes because of a strong Reagan challenge. 1980 Iowa: Republicans picked Bush and ignored Ronald Reagan, who refused to participate in debates. Democrats went for Carter and turned thumbs down on Edward Kennedy. N.H.: Carter beat Kennedy. Reagan, whom many considered too old to be president until his vigorous showing in GOP debates, beat Bush. 1984 Iowa: Former Vice President Walter Mondale received nearly half the Democratic delegates. Republicans didn’t have to caucus, they were all for Reagan. N.H.: Sen. Gary Hart pulled a surprise upset of Mondale in the Democratic primary, and even picked up a few votes against Reagan in the GOP primary. 1988 Iowa: Bush finished an embarassing third, behind Bob Dole and Pat Robertson. Dick Gephardt of Missouri and Paul Simon of Illinois led a field of eight Democrats. N.H.: Bush beat Dole, who refused to sign a pledge not to raise taxes. Massachusetts Gov. Mike Dukakis overran Gephardt and the other Democrats. Each winner became his party’s nominee. 1992 Iowa: Democrats went for Tom Harkin, but because that was his home state, nobody cared. Bush didn’t have a serious challenge. N.H.: Bush won the GOP primary, but in a sign of trouble ahead, faced a stiff challenge from Pat Buchanan. Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts won the Democratic primary, with Clinton finishing a strong enough second to claim he made a comeback. SOURCE: Staff research by Jim Camden

2. NW QUESTIONS HEADING EAST When the presidential candidates focus on New Hampshire, the concerns of the rest of the country often disappear from view. This year, The Spokesman-Review will try to get candidates to address Northwest issues while they seek Northeast votes. The newspaper polled voters about issues important to them. It also asked readers to call Cityline with questions they want asked. Armed with that information, political reporter Jim Camden heads for the Granite State this week in search of candidates and answers. He’ll check Cityline all week for more questions, so call (509) 458-8800 in Washington or (208) 765-8811 in Idaho, then press 9893 to leave a message. Next Sunday, he will report on whether the New Hampshire primary lives up to its reputation as the place where the candidates answer the questions of average people. And, if they do, what do they have to say about issues important to this side of the country? - Jim Camden


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