The New Hampshire Primary and the American Electoral Process

By Niall A. Palmer | Go to book overview

dates themselves as by reporters. They are not byproducts of New Hampshire's social or political culture. Indeed, they are likely to occur in any state occupying a similar position. If any broad claim can be made on the state's behalf, it is that its size and demographic composition compel candidates and reporters to approach voters on an individual or small-group basis rather than as an amorphous electoral mass. Rosenstiel records journalists' surprise that questions asked by New Hampshire citizens were so "serious, focused and surprisingly substantive," yet this is a much-observed quality and is a direct consequence of decades of exposure to intensive vote-harvesting by candidates. 109

In New Hampshire, reporters and candidates alike are exposed to a retail campaigning style that is fraught with danger because it cannot be stage-managed in the manner of a California stadium rally. New technology has impacted on the first primary, but the retail dimension can never be seriously threatened. The up close and personal tradition and logistics of state organization leave little room for maneuver here. If media stories emanating from the Granite State sometimes exaggerate the human interest dimension of the campaign, it is because that dimension is unusual and will, in any event, progressively fade from television screens as the primary process moves into high gear later in the spring. Again, as with the broad candidate field and novelty of campaign themes and issues, the New Hampshire arena exhibits unique characteristics that require an approach by observers and participants far different from those that will be required at later stages. For journalists, as much as for longshot candidates and grass-roots voters, the quadrennial Granite State contest affords both opportunities and pitfalls unlike those to be found in any other part of the nomination process.


NOTES
1.
F. Christopher Arterton, Media Politics: The New Strategies of Presidential Campaigns ( Washington, DC: Healt, 1984), p. 186.
2.
Richard Harwood, ed., The Pursuit of the Presidency 1980 ( New York: Berkeley Books, 1980), p. 48.
3
. William Manchester, The Glory and the Dream: A Narrative History of America 1932-1972 ( London: Bantam Books, 1975), p. 1165.
4.
Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ( London: Allison & Busby, 1973); Jules Witcover, Marathon: The Pursuit of the Presidency 1972-1976 ( New York: Viking Press, 1977).
5.
Austin Ranney, Channels of Power: The Impact of Television on American Politics ( New York: Basic Books, 1983), p. 58.
6.
Tom Rosenstiel, Strange Bedfellows: How Television and the Presidential Candidates Changed American Politics ( New York: Hyperion, 1993), p. 49.
7.
Frank I. Luntz, Candidates, Consultants and Campaigns: The Style and Substance of American Electioneering ( New York: Basil Blackwell, 1988), p. 209.
8.
David L. Paletz and Robert M. Entman, Media Power Politics ( New York: Macmillan Co., 1981), p. 29.
9.
Interview, Howard S. Fineman, Washington, DC, August 25, 1986.

-130-

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The New Hampshire Primary and the American Electoral Process
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Introduction xvii
  • 1 - Granite State Watersheds, 1916-1996 1
  • Notes 32
  • 2 - New Hampshire in Profile 37
  • 3 - The Nomination Environment 65
  • Notes 95
  • 4 - Interpretation Games: The News Media in New Hampshire 99
  • Notes 130
  • 5 - The Importance of Being Earliest 135
  • Conclusion - NASS and Beyond 175
  • Notes 180
  • Selected Bibliography 181
  • Index 185
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