Special Report

How Much the New Hampshire Primary Mattered in Every Election

1972 New Hampshire Democratic primary

Edmund Muskie
> Share of votes: 46.4% (totals not available)

Edmund Muskie, senator from New Hampshire’s neighboring state of Maine, won the New Hampshire primary over South Dakota Sen. George McGovern. His victory, however, was perceived by political pundits and the media as disappointing. The press conference in which he criticized attacks on his wife and himself by Manchester Union Leader publisher William Loeb seemed to demonstrate a lack of composure and hurt his chances as a presidential candidate.

George McGovern
> Share of votes: 37.2% (totals not available)

The South Dakota senator finished a strong second in the New Hampshire primary. Coupled with the decline in the fortunes of Maine Sen. Edmund Muskie, McGovern, an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War who felt the tax system was unfair to the poor, went on to win the Democratic nomination. Still, he was beaten by President Richard Nixon in the election.

1976 New Hampshire Democratic primary

Source: pingnews / Flickr

Jimmy Carter
> Share of votes: 28.4% (23,373)

Even though he was governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter did not have great name recognition and met as many voters as possible in the weeks leading up to the primary. Carter shocked the political establishment by winning New Hampshire. Carter won over four other Democratic candidates, including Morris Udall, a liberal congressman from Arizona, and Indiana Sen. Birch Bayh, a sponsor of the Equal Rights Amendment.

Source: Courtesy of U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

Morris Udall
> Share of votes: 22.7% (18,710)

Morris Udall was a liberal congressman from Arizona. He was a law professor and former basketball player who was known for his intelligence and wit. He finished second in the New Hampshire primary, the first of many second-place finishes in Democratic primaries in 1976.

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