The triumphs of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party in the 1968 and 1972 New Hampshire primaries held important lessons for candidates of various ideologies. In both 1968 and 1972, a candidate who mustered the support of just one faction of the party in New Hampshire was richly rewarded in subsequent contests. Both Gene McCarthy and George McGovern rode a wave of media-generated momentum through the rest of the nomination season, attracting like-minded Democrats to their campaigns. Even after 1972, however, the importance of New Hampshire to any candidate seeking his party’s nomination was still not clear to all. It was apparent, though, to a politician from the “New South” who sought to steer the party back toward the center. In 1976, it was former Georgia governor Jimmy Carter who unified working-class voters behind his candidacy in New Hampshire, frustrating liberals who split their votes among several candidates. And once again, a New Hampshire victory was key to a relative unknown’s successful quest for his party’s nomination.
KeywordsDemocratic Party Carter Administration Watergate Scandal Misery Index Liberal Candidate
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