“Tonight we made history,” said Mitt Romney after being projected the winner of the GOP primary in New Hampshire.
Yes, he is the first GOP candidate, not an incumbent President, to win both Iowa and New Hampshire.
Yes, he garnered 39% of the vote in New Hampshire.
Yes, he beat second-place finisher Ron Paul by more than 16 points.
Yes, he beat fourth-place finisher Rick Santorum by nearly 30 points.
Yes, his victory was the second-largest margin since Reagan in 1980.
Yes, he won among all demographic and ideological groups.
Yes, he may sew-up the GOP nomination in South Carolina on January 21.
All of this is great for him, personally.
But now for some other “history”:
- In 1988, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis won the Democratic primary in New Hampshire with 36% of the vote.
- In 1992, former Massachusetts Senator Paul Tsongas won the Democratic primary in New Hampshire with 33.2% of the vote.
- In 2004, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry won the Democratic primary in New Hampshire with 38.4% of the vote.
Ever hear of President Dukakis, President Tsongas or President Kerry?
They each won the New Hampshire primary like Romney did.
They each got less than 40% of the New Hampshire vote like Romney did.
They each hailed from Massachusetts like Romney does. In fact, Tsongas lived in Lowell, Massachusetts, about six miles from the New Hampshire border. Romney has a summer home in New Hampshire.
New Hampshire is the political backyard for statewide elected officials in Massachusetts seeking the presidency. New Hampshire residents watch Boston television stations. They listen to Boston radio stations. Many of them work in Massachusetts. Nashua, New Hampshire is 45 miles from Boston. The two largest cities in one part of California — San Francisco and San Jose — are only 47 miles apart.
For all practical purposes, New Hampshire is Romney’s home state, just like New Hampshire was the effective home state of Dukakis, Tsongas and Kerry. Massachusetts politicians should do well in New Hampshire. They should win the New Hampshire primary, just like Romney did.
But the last Massachusetts governor to win the New Hampshire primary with less than 40% of his party’s vote (Dukakis) was thumped in the general election by George H.W. Bush, winning only nine states and the District of Columbia en route to a paltry 111 electoral votes.
Go back to 1960, however. John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts won the New Hampshire primary with a whopping 85% of the Democratic vote. He, of course, won the general election.
Romney’s 39% in New Hampshire is not the kind of history he needed to embrace.