Unofficial Preliminary New Hampshire Results
(with 100% of districts reporting)
John McCain - 115,545 (29.8%)
Al Gore - 76,527 (18.1%)
George Bush - 71,121 (18.3%)
Bill Bradley - 70,295 (18.1%)
Steve Forbes - 29,615 ( 7.6%)
Alan Keyes - 15,170 ( 3.9%)
Others - 5,413 ( 1.4%)
Write-ins 2,068 ( 0.5%)
Gary Bauer - 1,671 ( 0.4%)
Orrin Hatch - 147 (0.04%)
Total Votes - 387,572 ( 52.4%)
Continuing the trend in the Iowa Caucuses, turnout in the New Hampshire primary was down compared to previous years. The 387,572 total votes is 52.4% of the registered voters. This compares with 61.6% who voted in 1992, the last time there were contested primaries in both parties.
Four years ago, the Republican Primary in 1996 drew 213,210 voters, compared to 235,790 so far this year. This is a 10% increase, about in line with the increase in registered voters. There were 265,679 registered Republicans in New Hampshire, for a turnout of 88.7%. This proves that a large choice of candidates produces a big turnout at the polls.
On the Democratic side, Clinton was unopposed four years ago. The Democrats 151,782 voters compared to the 197,816 registered Democrats is a turnout of 76.7%.
Killer Bushes Bump In The Road
The results show that Bush is in serious trouble, not in terms of getting the nomination, but in terms of winning the election. This is nothing new. Since the right wing religious fanatics have become prominent in the Republican Party, the problem for every Republican candidate has been how to win the nomination without losing the election. The core activists in the Republican Party are pushing the nominee too far to the right to win in November.
The Bush strategy of not having positions on the issues has backfired. Also, bringing his parents into the race over the last weekend was like waving a red flag in front of the voters. Anyone who ever hopes to become a success on the basis of their own merit has a vested personal interest in seeing Bush lose. The Bush Brothers, Governors of two of the biggest southern states: Texas and Florida, have done nothing in their lives to deserve winning the third highest offices in the land, except to have been lucky enough to be born into a wealthy and politically influential family..
George W. Bush, an Andover Preparatory School Graduate (like his dad) with a Harvard University MBA, is a big supporter of the death penalty. Last week, Texas executed a murderer who was 17 when he committed his crime. Only four nations in the world: Iran, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and the United States permit the execution of people who were minors when they committed their crimes. And this in a week when the Republican Illinois Governor George W. Ryan suspended the use of the death penalty because 13 of the 641 people condemned to die have been proven innocent and 33 of those convicted had lawyers who were subsequently disbarred or disciplined. It is almost a statistical certainty that innocent people have been or will be executed in Texas. Mr. Compassionate Conservative could care less, and the New Hampshire voters have passed judgement on his leadership.
Like Bob Dole, who lost to Pat Buchanan in the 1996 New Hampshire primary, the message of New Hampshire is that Bush will lose the General Election if the Republicans insist on nominating him. The difference between New Hampshire and most other states is that it is easy for independents to vote in the New Hampshire Primary. Independents can declare their party affiliation on the day of the voting, and then change back to being an independent on their way out of the voting booth. This is not the case in many other states where, once declared a member of the party, there is no convenient way to regain unaffiliated status. So, the New Hampshire primary comes closer to reflecting the will of the general voting population than do most other primaries
Gore Is Good To Go
Al Gore has gotten a fillip from New Hampshire. For all practical purposes, the Bradley campaign is over. The fact that McCain was able to beat Bush by such a large margin, makes Bradley's loss to Gore all the more fatal.
From a procedural standpoint, it is now incumbent on the rest of the country to nominate and elect either McCain or Gore. New Hampshire's power as the first in the nation primary comes from the fact that 75% of the major party nominees and 90% of the winning presidents have won the New Hampshire since 1916. This is a huge burden for any small state to carry.
The benefit of having a small state as the first in the nation primary with easy access for independent voters is that candidates can and must meet a large percentage of the 738,442 registered voters. It is accepted wisdom that New Hampshire is a retail, not a wholesale state. Money and media exposure are far less of an advantage in New Hampshire than they are in the large mega-states like California, Texas and New York.
Now that New Hampshire has spoken, it is in the best interests of the primary voters in the other, big states, who will never in their whole lives get a chance to see or meet a presidential candidate, much less a president; to validate New Hampshire's judgement and keep the New Hampshire primary the first in the nation.
Consequently, for procedural reasons and to support the right of people to choose their own representatives, Bill Bradley's campaign is effectively dead. He may hold on until the big round of primaries on March 7th, but then he'll throw in the towel when he loses. The unarticulated issue in the rest of the Democratic primaries will be whether people want to keep New Hampshire as the first in the nation primary. If Bradley is nominated by the Democrats and Bush is nominated by the Republicans, it will be the second time in 3 election cycles that New Hampshire has failed to pick a president. Such a result will send the message that it has become possible to lose New Hampshire and still win the White House, so New Hampshire will lose its historic significance..
In short, the New Hampshire primary has immeasurably boosted Al Gore's chances for victory in November. Because of the low turnout, anything is possible. The 2000 presidential election is going to be one of the closest in American history. Fasten your seat belts. The bump in the road from New Hampshire promises to turn into severe turbulence nationally by November.
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Contact: Joshua Leinsdorf