Monday, January 7, 2008

New Hampshire Presidential Primary

One of the most interesting decision situations takes place tomorrow in New Hampshire. This is the first presidential primary election with individuals walking into a voting booth and casting a secret ballot. Each person who votes will have been subjected to many persuasive arguments from all the candidates as to the superiority of one and the inferiority of all the rest. Some will vote based on the arguments; some will vote based on the personal impression generated by a candidate; and some will monitor the polls and go with the front-runner in order to be on the winning side. In the back of his or her mind, each voter will know that a New Hampshire primary vote is weightier than individual votes in later states, because it helps to generate momentum for the winning candidate which may make him or her unstoppable later. This year the primary season is amazingly compacted. After she came in third in the Iowa caucuses, Hillary Clinton was quoted as saying, I'm in this all the way to February fifth.
Given the fact that the candidates expect the primary races to be all over in less than a month, the New Hampshire voter will indeed be an important indicator of the ultimate outcome. This is true regardless of comments about demographic distinctions between New Hampshire and other states. People get excited about a winner, and that excitement will carry forward for a period of time before it wanes. Given the short period of time between the New Hampshire primary and February fifth, it will be very difficult for other candidates to overcome the excitement generated by the New Hampshire winners in time to stage a successful comeback.

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