Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Boston Globe flunks Poli Sci 101

A particularly inane story today in the Boston Globe about as many as half of all states moving up their presidential primaries in 2008 so that they come only a week or two after the New Hampshire vote -- or, more accurately, the New Hampshire veto, since all that state does is eliminate candidates from consideration. The main headline: "States may force megaprimary, winnow the 2008 field early." Well, since 1968, no one who has finished lower than second in New Hampshire has ever been nominated for president. I would say that the New Hampshire, as the first primary, has always "winnowed" the field. John Kerry nailed down the Democratic nomination after winning New Hampshire in 2004; how can the process be over any quicker than that? The subhead in the Globe story: "Once, they could come out of nowhere." This refers to New Hampshire's supposed ability to give a boost to candidates without a lot of money or national name recognition. That happened exactly once, with Jimmy Carter in 1976, and Carter won the nomination only because he was the only candidate smart enough to run in every single primary that year. All the other plausible nominees -- Henry Jackson, Jerry Brown, and Ted Kennedy among them -- concentrated on only a few primaries or thought they could win at the national convention. No one will ever catch a break like Carter did. The story is illustrated with photos of Gary Hart (who won New Hampshire but lost the nomination because he didn't have the money or organization to prevail in later primaries) and Bill Clinton (who actually finished second in New Hampshire to Paul Tsongas). New Hampshire likes to take credit for discovering Clinton, but he was easily the most plausible Democratic nominee that year long before New Hampshire voted. He may not have been as well-known as Jerry Brown, but do New Hampshire voters really believe that they were responsible for preventing Brown's nomination? OK, this is a rare post about politics. I'm supposed to avoid the subject because of my nonpartisan day job. But going after New Hampshire's ridiculous claim on choosing presidents is something Democrats and Republicans in 49 states can agree on.

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