In the Merrimack Valley: Has the New Hampshire Primary Outlived Its Importance

The editorial in today’s Nashua Telegraph poses an interesting question – “Has the grand tradition of the New Hampshire primary come to an end?” Noting that the three candidates – Jon Huntsman, who bragged about holding 150 events in the state, Rick Santorum and Buddy Roemer (Buddy who?) – who campaigned in New Hampshire relentlessly fell way short in the New Hampshire primary* while  Mitt Romney (albeit a New Hampshire landowner) and Ron Paul triumped in slots one and two. It seems that the retail politics enjoyed by New Hampshire voters over the last 60 years has been scooped by technology – the like of Twitter, Facebook and blogs – and definitely by Fox News  and its endless candidate debates. The editorial posits:

It started with Nixon, or more accurately, with the 1960 televised debate between a handsome and charismatic John F. Kennedy and a sweating Richard Nixon, whose 5 o’clock shadow made him look like a crook.

Technology continued to change presidential election campaigns, and it’s doing so in ways that are likely to soon make New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary irrelevant. Worst of all, there may be nothing New Hampshire can do about its diminished importance but grin and bear it.

One wonders as well about the importance of Iowa and those caucuses!

Read the full editorial here at


The state of New Hampshire has held a presidential primary since 1916, but its current importance didn’t emerge until 1952 when – after the state simplified its ballot access laws in 1949 seeking to boost voter turnout – General Dwight Eisenhower demonstrated his broad voter appeal by defeating Senator Robert A. Taft – widely known as  “Mr. Republican” – who had been favored to win the nomination and on the Democratic side when Senator Estes Kefauver defeated incumbent President Harry S. Truman –  leading Truman to abandon his campaign for a second term of his own. In 1968 Senator Eugene McCarthy nearly defeated President Lyndon Johnson – sending a strong message that had Johnson declaring:  “I shall not seek, and will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president.”