Storms from the Left: Gene McCarthy and George McGovern

  • Dante J. Scala


The first storms of the modern New Hampshire Democratic primary arrived from the Left. Galvanized and united by their opposition to the Vietnam War, the liberal wing of the state’s Democratic Party marshaled their forces behind a single candidate promising change in the party and in the nation: Eugene McCarthy in 1968, and George McGovern in 1972. In each case, they faced a party establishment riddled with cracks and divisions, struggling to maintain unity behind a mainstream candidate: President Lyndon Johnson in 1968, and Senator Edmund Muskie in 1972. In both cases, the party establishment managed to win the battle of New Hampshire, but the reform-minded insurgents won the war. Neither McCarthy nor McGovern managed to defeat their opponent at the ballot box, but both candidates dented their opponents severely, sending their campaign vehicles reeling off the road soon after leaving New Hampshire.


Democratic Party Giant Killer Presidential Nomination Front Runner Incumbent President 
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© Dante J. Scala 2003

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  • Dante J. Scala

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