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Sanders is the favorite going into New Hampshire, but what does history tell us?

Photo by Bryan Giardinelli/Bernie 2020 Campaign Photographer

With the first votes already cast in New Hampshire, we take a brief look at the history of the all important first in the nation primary. 

New Hampshire has held primaries since early last century, but did not assume its present form of importance until 1952 when candidates rather than prospective delegates’ names were first placed on the ballot. The primary itself has however been required by state law to be the first in the nation since 1920. Some facts worth noting for today are:

  • No candidate has ever gone on to win the nomination having finished worse than second for either party, other than in 1968 when Lyndon Johnson beat Eugene McCarthy before later deciding not to recontest, with Hubert Humphrey becoming the eventual nominee;
  • Bernie Sanders’ 60.4 percent vote share last time around was the best result for a Democrat other than for a sitting President since JFK received over 85 percent in 1960;
  • At 92 percent non Hispanic white according to the 2012 census, New Hampshire is the fourth whitest state in the union, which has fuelled some criticism of its prominent position in the nomination process;
  • Prior to Barack Obama’s second place finish in 2008, the last three New Hampshire winners all went on to win the Democratic nomination; the last four Republican winners have all gone on to be the GOP nominee;
  • Unlike the convoluted process in Iowa, the 24 pledged delegates are awarded on a relatively simple basis; eight proportional to the statewide vote, and eight each proportional to the result each candidate receives in each of the state’s two congressional districts;
  • On his third attempt at the Democratic nomination, this will in effect be the first New Hampshire primary for Joe Biden; he withdrew before the primaries in 1988, and after a disastrous showing in Iowa in 2008, though he was still on the ballot in New Hampshire, receiving 0.22 percent of the vote.

In what is a crucial contest for Sanders, we will keep you updated as the results come in. With most polls closing at 8pm ET, be sure to check out our live blog for all the latest.

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