(The Center Square) – New Hampshire primaries are Tuesday, with history on the way to repeating.

Just don’t look for it to resemble 1952 and 1968.

Nobody in the primary era has defeated an incumbent or former president for the party’s nomination. And Donald Trump, seeking new ground as the first former president to run while not the incumbent, has held an enormous lead over Republican challengers for months.

In the Jan. 2-4 national sampling of registered voters by The Center Square Voters’ Voice Poll, Trump’s 61% easily outpointed challengers Nikki Haley (12%), Ron DeSantis (11%) and Vivek Ramaswamy (7%). DeSantis dropped out of the race Sunday and Ramaswamy ended his campaign after finishing a distant fourth in the Iowa caucuses last week. They both endorsed Trump.

Respondents in two Voters’ Voice polls have handily predicted a 2020 rematch of Trump and President Joe Biden. For her part, Haley says she still believes she can win – with or without the impact of legal trouble for Trump.

Haley, the former UN ambassador and South Carolina governor, has polled better in the home of the nation’s first primary but was nipped for second by the Florida governor last week at the Iowa caucuses. Iowa is known for whittling down the field more than picking winners; to wit, Trump was second there in 2016 to Sen. Ted Cruz.

Failed campaigns of incumbent presidents are only a handful.

President Harry S. Truman, in 1952, was eligible for reelection via the just-passed 22nd Amendment. The Korean War was his albatross. He was beaten in New Hampshire by Tennessee Sen. Estes Kefauver and dropped out after that first primary.

Incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968 also dropped out after New Hampshire, though he had won by a slim margin. His decision was impacted by Sen. Robert F. Kennedy’s entry four days later and the heavily debated Vietnam War – one in which his speech calling for a ceasefire concluded with the announcement of his decision to withdraw.

The other three occasions all went to the party nomination finish line. California Gov. Ronald Reagan was denied by incumbent President Gerald Ford for the 1976 Republican nomination; Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy by President Jimmy Carter for the 1980 Democratic nomination; and presidential special consultant Pat Buchanan by President George H.W. Bush for the 1992 Republican nomination.

None of those winners, however, returned to the White House. Ford lost in ’76 to Carter, Carter lost in ’80 to Reagan, and Bush lost in ’92 to Bill Clinton.

Rating: 4.0/5. From 1 vote.
Please wait...