Headline Muse, 10/22

Since the dates and the races are linked
Votes are easier, when they’re distinct
When Nevada encroached
Old New Hampshire felt poached
Till today, when the Silver State blinked

Headline: Nevada vote clears way for Jan. primary in New Hampshire

Because nothing can get in the way of the quadrennial rite of kissing New Hampshire’s ass.


  1. says

    I think you can make a case either way on the worth of New Hampshire holding in the first primary. Yeah, it’s a small state up in one corner of the country and not really representative enough to justify its outsized effect on the rest of the campaign.
    On the other hand, it’s a place where a candidate without a lot of money or name recognition can give a campaign a jumpstart with some barnstorming and ground troops.
    Still, though, I live in a state with more people, but being on the west coast we vote at the tail end of the process and have almost no effect on the choice of nominees. It sucks. As do the nominees, usually.

  2. says

    1. As a proud New Hampshirite, I feel obligated to defend myself against all the NH-primary-bashing on this blog with a Nelson Muntz-style “Ha ha!” That said, I do actually think a randomized order of primaries would be best.

    2. The effect of the NH primary is probably not as big as people think. The winner of the NH primary only goes on to win their party’s nomination about half the time (Hillary Clinton? Pat Buchanan? Paul Tsongas? Harold Stassen?), and it’s even less often than that when you don’t count primaries against sitting presidents… Only two presidents running for reelection have ever failed to get their own party’s nominations, and they were both before the primary process started. (For those wondering, Millard Fillmore was passed over by the Whig caucuses in favor of Winfield Scott in 1852 — Scott lost the general election by a pretty large margin to Franklin Pierce, who was in turn passed over by the Democratic caucuses in favor of James Buchanan in 1856.)

  3. Lauren Ipsum says

    I like the idea of randomized primaries also. The “divide the nation into quarters for four Super Tuesdays” approach still favors money, while “one state at a time” allows someone to build momentum. But why NH and Iowa in particular I’ve never really understood. Tradition?

  4. says

    Wait. Oops. Sorry, I guess one of my comments doesn’t make that much sense. I meant to object to the NH-primary-hating on “the blogs”, not “this blog” in particular.

    Anyway, yeah, New Hampshire was the first state to switch from nomination by caucus to nomination by primary. It got into the habit of scheduling the first primary, as far as I know, as a symbol of pride over that. It was eventually enshrined into state law, but the justification is just that it’s tradition.

    I don’t know much about the Iowa caucuses other than that Iowa has them instead of having primaries. Wikipedia says the Iowa caucuses are so early because George McGovern’s campaign lobbied the Iowa Democrats to schedule it then in 1972. (They’re allowed to go before the NH primary because caucuses are scheduled by the parties, not the state governments, so they’re not legally-binding.) The Republicans then just started scheduling their Iowa caucus on the same days as the Democratic caucus every year, and then both parties started releasing tallies of the participants’ votes to make it more obviously analogous to how public primaries work.

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