New Hampshire Primary Winners Have Good Odds Long-Term | NBC Bay Area
Reality Check

Reality Check

Vets the truthfulness of claims and measures the efficacy of public policy

New Hampshire Primary Winners Have Good Odds Long-Term

What historical election data says about candidates’ chances of making it to the ballot in November



    Reality Check's Sam Brock discusses what historical election data says about candidates' chances of making it to the ballot in November. (Published Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016)

    The Presidential primaries have begun, and last night the political establishments were upended when Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders cruised to huge victories.

    New Hampshire is an important state to win, but is it a good predictor of how the candidates will do in the long run?

    Yes it is, according to close to 70 years of historical election data.

    Since World War II, the first or second place winner in New Hampshire has gone on to win the GOP nomination.

    In 1948, Thomas Dewey decimated his competition and won the New Hampshire primary. Since then, every single first place finisher, except for three, has represented Republicans on the ballot the following November. Winners include Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and most recently, Mitt Romney.

    The three exceptions? John McCain placed first in 2000, Pat Buchanan in 1996, and Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. in 1964. In each of those years, the second-place finishers made the ballot.

    In the modern era, the New Hampshire winner is the GOP nominee 82 percent of the time.

    That information certainly bodes well for Donald Trump.

    What about the Democratic side?

    Hillary Clinton should like her chances of regaining front-runner status.

    Democratic candidates who finished in the top two in New Hampshire have also represented their party on the ballot that fall, but that pattern has only been in place since 1972, and more second place Democrats have taken the nomination than Republican runner ups.

    Since 1972, seven out of eleven Democratic winners in the Granite State primary have captured the nomination.

    In 2012, Barack Obama finished first, but he was already the presumptive nominee. In the last truly contested New Hampshire primary in 2008, Hillary Clinton won.

    It’s possible the former Secretary of State could find more success as the second-place finisher.

    After all, if the historical data tells any story, it’s this: Hillary Clinton stands a greater chance of grabbing that final spot on your ballot, than New Hampshire’s Republican runner-up, John Kasich.