Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The New Hampshire Primary: In historical context

We teach history, so let's leave it to the Government teachers to discuss the meaning of tonight's New Hampshire primary with their students.  We can focus, instead, on the obvious history lesson relating to today's voting.

The New Hampshire primary has its own history.  Here are some terrific resources to share with your students to put the Granite State's first-in-the-nation primary into historical perspective.

This video (5:36) describes the history of the primary, from when it started in 1916, through 1952 (beginning of the "beauty pageant" election), to the present, and how and why it asserted its first-in-the-nation place on the electoral calendar.
This playlist from the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm's College includes short contemporaneous videos describing ten key New Hampshire primary elections, from 1952 (with candidates like Taft and Eisenhower for the Republicans, and Truman and Kefauver for the Democrats) to John McCain in 2000.  This video (0:49) from that playlist shows Bill Clinton in 1992 declaring himself the "Comeback Kid."
This essay from the New Hampshire Almanac summarizes the key features of each primary from 1952 to 1996.

This short essay lists the five biggest moments in New Hampshire primary history:
  1. 1952: Truman loses to Kefauver, which forces Truman to drop his re-election bid.  Eisenhower, a candidate for just one month, defeats Taft.
  2. 1968: McCarthy's strong challenge to LBJ forces Johnson to drop his re-election bid.
  3. 1984: A surging Gary Hart defeats a heavily-favored Vice President Walter Mondale.
  4. 1992: Clinton survives disclosure of his infidelities and casts a second-place finish as a moral victory.
  5. 2008: Hillary Clinton stops (temporarily) Barack Obama's momentum after his surprise victory in the Iowa caucus.
Classroom Connection: Divide your class into groups, and have each group research one of the primary elections.  Have them present their primary to their classmates, then have the class vote to rank order the elections that they think had the most impact on the United States.  The teams scoring the highest in the ranking could get extra credit points for being the most persuasive.

No comments: