Texas Liberal

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An Early History Of The New Hampshire Primary

 

The first New Hampshire primary was held in 1916. This was 4 years after Presidential primaries were held for the first time in 1912.

The 1916 New Hampshire was not first in the nation. It was held one week after the Indiana primary.

The Democratic winner was a slate of delegates committed to President Woodrow Wilson. President Wilson  (photo above) was the only candidate. New Hampshire Republicans choose an uncommitted slate of delegates. 

The 1920 New Hampshire primary, the first contested Granite State primary, was also the first primary of the election season. It was held on March 9. New Hampshire has held the first primary ever since.

The names of individual candidates did not appear on the 1920 New Hampshire ballot. Instead, voters selected delegates who were committed to specific candidates or who at that point were uncommitted.

The Republican winner in New Hampshire was Major General Leonard Wood. Wood ( below) was from New Hampshire. General Wood had served as Army Chief of Staff under President William Howard Taft. He was later passed over as commander of US forces in World War I. Black Jack Pershing got that job.

For Democrats, delegates committed to Herbert Hoover  (Below with John Kennedy in 1960) won a plurality of support. Hoover had led the U.S. relief effort for Europe after the War.

Just as Dwight Eisenhower received a small number of Democratic primary votes in 1948, Mr. Hoover in 1920 was popular leader of uncertain political allegiance. Both Mr. Hoover and General Eisenhower would go on to win the White House as Republicans.

Neither General Wood nor Mr. Hoover would be nominated in 1920. Nor would the leading overall primary vote-getters of 1920 be nominated.

Republican top vote-winner Senator Hiram Johnson  (below) of California lost his fight to Senator Warren Harding of Ohio. On the Democratic side, Woodrow Wilson’s terrible red-baiting Attorney General Mitchell Palmer of New Jersey was defeated by Governor James Cox of Ohio.

Progressive Republican Senator Johnson, Teddy Roosevelt’s running mate on the 1912 Bull Moose ticket, would have been the superior candidate over Mr. Palmer.

Who is to say that some years from now the Republican party will not be the party of the left and the Democratic party the party of the right? The parties shift and evolve over time.

It would be many years before presidential primaries had the lead role in selecting nominees.

January 5, 2008 - Posted by | Campaign 2008, Elections, Political History, Politics | , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. Neil,
    Thanks for this interesting bit of history. I stayed up last night to watch the first vote in the nation’s primaries cast at Dixville Notch.
    The results of the election, reported almost immediately (there are only 17 registered voters in the Notch and they all vote at midnight EST) are very instructive.
    This is going to be a VERY interesting primary season all over the nation.

    Comment by Judy Allen, Beaumont, TX | January 8, 2008

  2. Judy—Thanks for the nice comment and for reading the blog. Great to have a reader in the great city of Beaumont in the Golden Triangle of Texas.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | January 8, 2008


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