Number Crunching: Just how important is the New Hampshire Primary?

Back in 2000 (ah, those halcyon, pre-9/11 days!), you might recall a straight-shootin’, seemingly invincible John McCain carried New Hampshire only to lose momentum—and ultimately the nomination—to our current president, thanks to a doughy strategist named Karl Rove. (Rove, of course, mounted an ingenious smear campaign in South Carolina that insinuated McCain had not only fathered an illegitimate black child, but was, in fact, pro-breast cancer.)

So: just how significant is the New Hampshire primary in the nomination process? Answer: fairly.

Of the 28 U.S. presidential nominees since 1952—the year N.H. first gained distinction as an early make-or-break primary—22 won the Granite State and five finished second. Adlai Stevenson is the only candidate to have secured his party’s nomination after a less than second-place showing in New Hampshire (1952) .

Which is bad news for Mike Huckabee. As of 5:30 p.m., the Iowa victor appeared to be battling Ron Paul and Rudy Giuliani for a distant third, trailing Mitt Romney and front-runner McCain.

Somewhere, Chuck Norris is roundhouse-kicking his television.

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