Let's Talk Sense...


Sunday, November 23, 2003
Volume XXVIII, No. 6
Roswell, New Mexico

Readership this date:

In this issue...

The New Hampshire Primary Fraud: Myth and Reality
Reorganization and a New Publication
In the next issue...
Sports by NMDR


The Making of the Presidential Primary Fraud:
The Myth and Reality of the New Hampshire Primary
by Rod Adair

I very clearly remember the news coverage of the developing presidential campaign in the winter of 1963-64, the first "primary season" I am actually able to remember. Roswell had one TV station, KSWS, Channel 8, an NBC affiliate. I was ten years old as the new year dawned, and Barry Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller were traipsing through the snow of New Hampshire.

Almost 40 years later, we are nearly a year into the New Hampshire campaign and I don't know if it has even snowed yet in New Hampshire this fall. If the ten Democrat candidates have tromped through any snow it was probably last winter, that's how long they've been at it. Amazing.

There are numerous differences in presidential campaigns compared to 40 years ago, but one of the biggest is the sheer length. For the 1964 Republican nomination, they started serious campaigning in New Hampshire about December 1963. Even heading into 1980, Teddy Kennedy waited until November to announce----and have his famously disastrous interview with Roger Mudd in which he was unable to enunciate any rationale for his candidacy, or even outline a single reason why he should be president.

Back to 1964, the New Hampshire Primary was, of course, first in the nation, but it was held on March 10---a date now considered so late that most talking heads believe the fiercely contested Democrat nomination will have already been won by that date next year. Goldwater finished ahead of Rockefeller and everyone else on the ballot in the Republican Primary:

Barry Goldwater 20,692 (22.3%)
Nelson Rockefeller 19,504 (21.0%)
Margaret Chase Smith 2,120 (2.3%)
Harold E. Stassen 1,373 (1.5%)
Norman LePage 82 --------

The problem for Goldwater and Rockefeller however, was that nearly 50,000 people, some 53% of Republican voters, took the trouble to write in other names---people who weren't even running for president. (No one was on the Democrat ballot---LBJ took 95.3% of the write-in votes cast.) The Republican winner was Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. with 33,007 write-in votes (35.5% of the total votes cast) while another 15,587 wrote in Richard Nixon, garnering him another 16.8% of the vote. Lodge was serving as ambassador to the Republic of Vietnam, while Nixon was in private law practice in New York. Neither, of course, even showed up in New Hampshire, with Lodge never leaving Vietnam.

Always First in the Nation?

New Hampshire fiercely fights to protect its primary, passing legislation to ensure that it is always "first in the nation." How the New Hampshire State Legislature can enforce that state law on the rest of the states I have never understood. That will have to wait for another day however. I will merely pose the question: Are New Hampshire's claims true?

The late Hugh Gregg and many other New Hampshire partisans, through their quotes and tireless public relations work, have made famous the following claims:

"New Hampshire: Always First, Always Right"

and the equally contentious:

"New Hampshire is nationally recognized as 'where it all begins' in presidential elections."

Now are either of those claims true? Are they close to being true? Are they remotely true? The short answer to each of the questions is "no." So now If you want to skip to the next article, go ahead.

The facts are quite different. Presidential primaries, like all "primaries" are a product of the Progressive movement, which began very late in the 19th Century and lasted through the early 1920's. Progressives believed nominations for all offices should be "more democratic" and that candidates should not be chosen by party leaders, or even in conventions which they viewed as being dominated by party "bosses."

At the 1904 Republican National Convention, Wisconsin Governor Robert M. La Follette, who was both a Republican and a Progressive during his career, failed to get his own delegation seated. Instead, the convention recognized the credentials of a "regular" Republican delegation from the Cheesehead State. This left La Follette pretty much steamed. He went back home and got the legislature to pass a 1905 law mandating direct election of national convention delegates. Pennsylvania followed in 1906. Neither of these states, however, used "presidential preference" in their selection of delegates.

It was Oregon that developed what we know today as the presidential preference primary. In 1910, Republican Senator Jonathan Bourne sponsored a referendum to establish the primary. By the time the 1912 campaign rolled around, 13 states had either a presidential preference primary, a delegate selection primary, or both. Here's the earliest record I have of a presidential primary:

March 19, 1912, North Dakota


Robert M. La Follette 34,123
Theodore Roosevelt 23,669
William H. Taft 1,876


No candidates on the ballot

New York, Wisconsin, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Oregon (on April 19), Maryland, Massachusetts, Maryland, California, Ohio, New Jersey, and South Dakota all held presidential primaries that year. But not New Hampshire. New Hampshire did adopt a presidential primary law shortly thereafter, and beginning in 1920 it happened always to be first. However, with the lone exception of President Calvin Coolidge in 1924, no names ever appeared on the ballot. The primary always listed "unpledged delegates." And of course no one ever showed up.

It wasn't until 1952 that New Hampshire invented the "always first, always right...where it all begins" New Hampshire Primary. By that time however, long-standing primaries, easily recognized by political observers today as traditional presidential primary states, had been holding strongly contested, serious presidential preference primaries for 40 years. Wisconsin, Oregon, California, Nebraska, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, South Dakota and several other states had been sites of hard-fought races, elevating and eliminating serious contenders for the presidency. New Hampshire simply asserted itself and began making the dubious claim that it was important. 1952 came and went, then 1956, 1960, and the above-mentioned 1964 By dint of repetition and unchallenged claims, New Hampshire, an atypical state with no particular claim to representative status, let alone that of being a "bellwether," transmogrified into something it was not, is not today and never has been. But, I suppose, that is the very essence of myth. Here are the results of the 1952 New Hampshire Presidential Primary:

Republican Democrat
% %
Dwight D. Eisenhower 46,661 50.4 Estes Kefauver 19,800 55.0
Robert A. Taft 35,838 38.7 Harry S Truman 15,927 44.2
Harold E. Stassen 6,574 7.1 Douglas MacArthur 151
Douglas MacArthur* 3,337 3.5 James A. Farley 77
Adlai E. Stevenson 40

* MacArthur was a write-in candidate on the Republican ballot

Typical? Well, everyone remembers President Kefauver, right? Okay, it is true that Ike went on to win the nomination. But the fact is that the nomination was not won in New Hampshire, or in the other popular primaries----in which Taft, after all, outpolled Eisenhower by nearly 700,000 votes. It was won in the state-by-state struggle within nominating conventions and state party organizations.


Senator Rod Adair can be heard every Friday from 9:15 to 11:00 on KINF Radio (AM 1020) in Roswell as he appears alongside Roswell Says radio show host Ron Stevens. Rod and Ron take calls from all over Southeastern New Mexico, discussing philosophical differences between liberals and conservatives as well as talking with listeners about national, state and local issues of the day.


The Real Record of the New Hampshire Primary

So what is the real record of this not-always-first, not-always-right presidential primary. Here are the results, working backward from 2000:


John McCain crushes George W. Bush by a landslide 19-point margin in the Republican Primary, many analysts predict the Bush balloon has popped and that McCain will sweep to victory. Bush won the very next contest in South Carolina and never looked back. On the Democrat side, Al Gore beats Bill Bradley 76,897 to 70,502. The Democrats' rule that there would be no primaries or caucuses permitted between New Hampshire and "Super Tuesday," five weeks later, ended up causing the Bradley campaign to wither on the vine. For 35 consecutive days Gore's New Hampshire victory was touted in the press. So much was made of it, one would have thought Gore had carried New Hampshire by 30 points. When Super Tuesday finally arrived, Gore beat Bradley in all 16 primaries and caucuses. One can argue that New Hampshire nominated Gore, or did in Bradley, but the artificial decisions by the DNC and the media were just as important. New Hampshire's role is marginal.


In a crowded 9-man field, Republican Pat Buchanan posts a 1-point upset of frontrunner Bob Dole, Lamar Alexander breaks free from the rest of the pack to become the darling of the pundits who then announce that Alexander, as a non-polarizing alternative (unlike Buchanan) has emerged as the man to watch. Dole gets the nomination anyway. Clinton, as the incumbent president, is not challenged. New Hampshire has no real role in the nomination process.


Democrat Paul Tsongas beats Bill Clinton in a 5-man Democrat field. But the press decides that because Tsongas is from Massachusetts and Clinton is involved in the first, of what was to become about a dozen, sex scandals, he should be dubbed the "comeback kid" for finishing 8 points behind Tsongas. Bob Kerrey, Tom Harkin and Jerry Brown finish 13-16 points behind Clinton and are marginalized. On the Republican side, President Bush defeats Pat Buchanan 53-37. While this is arguably not great for an incumbent president, the press treats it as a huge defeat for Bush, arguing that it was a terrible performance for a sitting president. Ignored is the fact that Bush's numbers are much better than previous incumbent presidents Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, Lyndon Johnson and Harry Truman, in their New Hampshire primaries. New Hampshire plays no role in the nomination process of either presidential candidate.

In the past three cycles, New Hampshire has endorsed three of the six nominees, and one of the three presidential winners. Pretty unimpressive stuff, especially when you consider that two of the three nominees it picked were sitting presidents, and the one overall winner it forecast was also an incumbent president.


In a field of seven Democrats, next door neighbor and Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis runs 16 points ahead of Dick Gephardt, the second place finisher. Vice President Bush beats Bob Dole by 9 points as Jack Kemp, Pete DuPont (endorsed by LTS...) and Pat Robertson are effectively eliminated from the race. 1988 is arguably the best "performance" ever by the New Hampshire Primary, as it "picked" both nominees for president.


Ronald Reagan faces only Harold Stassen, making his seventh bid for the presidency since 1944. Stassen gets 1,543 votes, good for 2.0%. On the Democrat side, Colorado Senator Gary Hart stuns the political world by upsetting the frontrunner, Vice President Walter Mondale, 37.3 to 27.9. John Glenn is knocked out even though The Right Stuff is showing in all the theaters. Fritz Hollings, Reubin Askew and Alan Cranston are humiliated and fold up their tents. So are Jesse Jackson, and George McGovern, but they decide to soldier on anyway. Mondale wins the nomination and New Hampshire plays no role in either party's nomination battle.


February 26, 1980, President Carter turns back next-door Senator Ted Kennedy, 47-37. It had to be a stunning and humiliating defeat for Kennedy. However, it cannot be said to have been decisive in any way. Carter had bragged in Time magazine, "If he runs, I'll kick his ass." He ran, and he did. But they went at it 34 times in primaries, and Carter beat him 24-10. They were both in it for the long haul. Carter was president and Kennedy had the money. Ultimately the presidency won out over an extremely flawed man trying to carry Chappaquiddick on his back. Republican ex-Governor Ronald Reagan made his famous "I am paying for this microphone Mr. Green" statement at the famous New Hampshire debate, and carried that to a big win, 50-23, over George H. W. Bush. (The man's actual name was "Breen," not Green, but who cares?) Howard Baker and Philip Crane, who set the all-time record for starting early (he announced his candidacy in August 1978), were knocked out. Bush recovered to win the Massachusetts Primary a week later. John Connally waited for his one-time shot in the South Carolina Primary on March 8, but saw it rim out as Reagan beat him 55-30, and Connally quit. Bush fought on doggedly, beating Reagan in huge contests in Michigan and Pennsylvania, as well as in Connecticut and D.C. But Reagan beat Bush an astounding 29 times head-to-head, including a devastating 51-47 morale buster in Texas on May 3. And beginning May 20, Reagan won the last 12 in a row. New Hampshire can hardly be said to have played anything like a crucial role in either party's road to the nomination.


President Ford beat Ronald Reagan 55,156 to 53,569 in a finish that is still disputed by Reagan backers to this day. But Ford and Reagan met in 23 primaries, with Ford winning 13 of them. New Hampshire did not help Reagan, but you can also say that his campaign blew key races, by excruciatingly narrow margins late in the season, especially in southern and western primaries he should have won. Upstart Jimmy Carter took 28% of the vote and claimed frontrunner status, besting a cast of thousands. But Scoop Jackson came right back the next week and beat him soundly in Massachusetts. It was Florida, not New Hampshire, where Carter proved his mettle, not only beating George Wallace by 4 points, but knocking Jackson out of the race. It was the Carter team's decision to enter 26 primaries, and not be a regional, or pick-and-choose candidate, that proved decisive. He was beaten six times late in the season by Jerry Brown and Frank Church, but it was too little, too late. New Hampshire was only one of 18 victories for Carter, and hardly the most significant.


Edmund Muskie beat George McGovern 46-37, but everyone acted as if McGovern had won. I don't know why to this day. Also, rumors that Muskie was caught crying on camera dogged him mercilessly. This was apparently before "hyper-feelingism" completely swept over the Democrat Party and their agents in the media. Today, we must presume, such emotion and what-not is probably an asset. That is, if it actually happened. This is one of those great mysteries of history, like was Jefferson Davis really wear women's clothing when he was captured by the Yankee cavalry? Historians are uniformly vague on this question. They are on the "was Muskie crying" question as well. So am I. I have watched the film 50 times and still can't tell. President Nixon "Now more than Ever" (that was one of his catchy reelection slogans) was challenged from the right by John Ashbrook and from the left by Paul McCloskey, who insisted on being called "Pete." McCloskey said he had to get 20% in New Hampshire or he would withdraw. He got 19.8. Ashbrook got 9.7%, but he had not insisted on getting 10. New Hampshire played no role in the nomination of either candidate.


On March 12, 1968 President Johnson defeated Eugene McCarthy 27,520 to 23,263. This is an event about which many people, including media types, suffer "false memory syndrome." Usually one hears of McCarthy "defeating LBJ" here and "knocking him out of the race." In fact, LBJ won----and he wasn't even on the ballot. All his votes were write-ins. McCarthy did have herds of volunteers beating down doors to get votes, but his was the only name on the ballot! How tough should that have been? The reality is that McCarthy ran second in a one-man race. Not a great recommendation actually. Anyway, 19 days later Johnson did announce that he would "not seek, and will not accept" his party's nomination. But New Hampshire had nothing to do with his decision. Richard Nixon, George Romney and Harold Stassen were the only Republicans on the ballot. Final Score: Nixon: 80,666 Romney: 1,743 Stassen: 429. I am not making this up. Romney had by then actually quit after his extremely famous "I was brainwashed" speech. (Voters, apparently, are not drawn to candidates who have been brainwashed, or who openly admit to it anyway.) Presumably Stassen got so few votes because people just didn't like him very much. (Speaking personally, I found him harder and harder to like as the years went by.) New Hampshire was hardly crucial in either race.


Republican candidates are covered above in paragraph 4. No Democrats were on the ballot. If New Hampshire played a role at all, it was a silly one.


March 10, 1960, Richard M. Nixon and John F. Kennedy sweep to big victories, but then again, they were unopposed. New Hampshire plays no role in the process.


President Eisenhower is unopposed. Senator Estes Kefauver is unopposed. New Hampshire plays no role in the nomination process.


Eisenhower defeats Taft. Kefauver beats Truman. But, as stated earlier, New Hampshire plays no role in the process.

Summary: First in the Nation and Worst in the Nation

In the 13 New Hampshire Primaries since the Granite State re-invented the event in 1952, the results are less than impressive. The state's voters clearly have a much better handle on Republican sentiment than Democrat, but its record is not a good one in either case.

New Hampshire can claim to have picked 10 of 13 Republican nominees. However, in seven of those (1956, 1960, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1984, and 1992) the Republican winner was either the incumbent president or was unopposed in the primary (Nixon is included in this in 1968, for reasons outlined above). In instances of a real contest, New Hampshire is actually only 3 and 3. New Hampshire was "right" in 1952, 1980 and 1988, but "wrong" in 1964, 1996 and 2000.

On the Democrat side the record is downright embarrassing. New Hampshire has "picked" the nominee only 7 times in 13 tries: 1960, 1964, 1976, 1980, 1988, 1996 and 2000. But '60, '64, '80 and '96 were "gimmees" (either unopposed or incumbent presidents, or both). In races with no incumbent president running, and where the race is actually contested, New Hampshire is playing well under .500 ball. Under those conditions, they have been "right" only three times: 1976, 1988 and 2000. They have been "wrong" an astounding six times: in '52, '56, '68, '72, '84, and '92. That's a 3 and 6 record. That's pretty lousy by anyone's book.

Adding both parties together, New Hampshire's record in all contested races not involving incumbent presidents, is an abysmal 6 and 9. You can do almost that well by throwing darts with a blindfold on.

The fact is the record of the New Hampshire Primary as a predictor of an eventual nominee is so bad it is more likely that the upcoming winner will eventually lose the nomination than gain it. So, whether the winner in New Hampshire is Howard Dean, John Kerry, Dick Gephardt, or someone else, you'll be better off picking the second or third place finisher than you will going with the winner.


Reorganization and a New Publication

Thanks to feedback from our loyal readers as far away as Pennsylvania, Georgia and Washington, DC, New Mexico Demographic Research will begin publishing a new on-line newsletter in the next month. It will be called the New Mexico Political Journal. The new publication will analyze politics in New Mexico, with "political" being understood in the sense of political parties, political organizations, campaigns and elections----as opposed to legislative, governmental and public policy issues----reported on by Senator Rod Adair in Legislative Update.

While many of our subscribers back east and out of state, do in fact enjoy New Mexico stories, others have expressed a desire to see Let's Talk Sense... concentrate on national issues, dealing with electoral and public policy issues that affect all of America. Thus the change.

We want to hear from you. If you want to receive New Mexico Political Journal, let us know. If you want any one, but only one of the three, tell us. If you want all three we will keep you on the list.

Let's Talk Sense...
Legislative Update
New Mexico Political Journal

If you want any of these publications, just hit "create mail" and in the message, just type LTS, or LU, or NMPJ, or any combination.


Senator Rod Adair can be heard every Friday from 9:15 to 11:00 on KINF Radio (AM 1020) in Roswell as he appears alongside Roswell Says radio show host Ron Stevens. Rod and Ron take calls from all over Southeastern New Mexico, discussing philosophical differences between liberals and conservatives as well as talking with listeners about national, state and local issues of the day.


In the next issue...

Iowa: An even worse record than New Hampshire
The Talking Heads: A guide to the TV and Radio talkers
Democrat Presidential Contenders: A helpful Voters' Guide by LTS...
LUTHER, the Movie: It's the Gospel, Stupid (a review)


Sports News from New Mexico Demographic Research

(temporarily suspended do to reorganization, personnel turnover, and disciplinary and personnel issues in the sports department