The New Hampshire primary, which is coming up next week, is given huge importance in the US political process. There’s no doubt that it makes for great drama and a ready flow of enjoyable political anecdotes. But does it really matter who wins?
What’s almost never mentioned is that the majority of winners of open contests don’t go on to be their party’s candidate for president. (By “open” I mean a contest without an incumbent President or Vice-President, which is what both the Republican and Democrat contests are this year).
Here are the details: for the Democrats: in 1984 Mondale lost to Hart, in 1988 Dukakis won, in 1992 Clinton lost to Tsongas, in 2004 Kerry won; for the Republicans: in 1980 Reagan won, in 1996 Dole lost to Buchanan and in 2000 Bush lost to McCain.