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Monday, November 10, 2003

No more politics, I promise!

Usually by this time in an election year, I know exactly who I'm supporting in the primary. (This may have more to do with the relative smallness of the Democratic field in the elections before this one, although I do remember being a staunch Gary Hart supporter long before I could vote. I also liked Bob Kerrey in '92. Perhaps the candidates should actively not seek my endorsement.) Anyway, I haven't a clue who to like just yet. Right now, it's very tough to be a Democrat who still believes the war in Iraq was a neccessary thing. Let me point out, though, before my loyal readers gasp in shock, that I believed in the humanitarian case for war, separate from the WMD case, although I admit I found Colin Powell's speech at the U.N. pretty damning. In any case, there is plenty of evidence that the U.N. sanctions were hurting Saddam far less (if at all) than they were hurting the Iraqi people. Therefore, one either needed to get rid of the sanctions, or get rid of the regime (and thus eliminate the need for the sanctions).

In other words, to get back to the main point of my post, Howard Dean and I have a disagreement about starting the war. But fortunately, we agree on two points: the Bush administration had no plan for starting the peace; and now that we're in there, we have an obligation to clean up the mess we made. So, though I admit I'm speaking from a position of great ignorance about the candidates, I suppose I can say I'm a fan of Howard Dean.

But watch out. I just endorsed him, and you know my track record. Ah, you say, but he's poised to conquer New Hampshire.

What do the following people have in common: Estes Kefauver, Henry Cabot Lodge, Edmund Muskie, Gary Hart, Paul Tsongas, Pat Buchanan, and John McCain? That's right: they all won the New Hampshire primary. In fact, if you count sitting vice presidents as incumbents, since 1952 only 6 non-incumbents who won New Hampshire went on to win their party's nomination (out of a total of 14 non-incumbents running), although 5 of those did go on to win the presidency (Mike Dukakis was the lucky loser). If you don't count Veeps as incumbents, that's 17 non-incumbents who won New Hampshire, and only 8 who also won the nomination. (Two of those were Richard Nixon, who was essentially uncontested for the nomination at the time of the 1960 and 1968 primaries.)

Of course, this distribution of winners and losers is probably well within the laws of probability, but you'd expect, given how overblown the coverage is, and how important the candidates consider it, that the winner in New Hampshire is almost always the nominee. Yet nothing could be farther from the truth.

Remind me why we care who wins New Hampshire, again?

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