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New Hampshire Almanac >First-in-the-Nation

Outline of New Hampshire

First-In-The-Nation Presidential Primary

By Hugh Gregg
Hugh, Gregg. "New Hampshire’s First-In-The-Nation Presidential Primary", State of New Hampshire Manual for the General Court, (Department of State) No.55, 1997.

 

Analysis of Post-Election Questionnaire Results

      A post-primary election questionnaire was forwarded to all the "fringe candidates" for evaluation of their participation in the New Hampshire primary. Thirteen out of thirty-five took the trouble to respond: Carter, Safran, Griffin, Fornwalt, Hamm, McManus, Drucker, Paulsen, Skillen and Gunderson. Doerschuck, Collins and Casamassima added a letter to their executed questionnaire.
      Structured in an easy to answer format, the questionnaire was made up of twenty-nine questions about length of stay in New Hampshire, dollars spent, campaign materials used, principal reason for running, priority issues, advertising used, media attention received, best and worst memory of the experience, filings in other states, and what should be the criteria that determine a "fringe candidate?".
      Gunderson, Fornwalt, and Paulsen did not spend one day in New Hampshire. Doerschuck had taken an apartment in Nashua so that she could run as a resident. Dr. Skillen stayed with his family in Claremont for 45 days, the longest period spent in the state by any of the candidates. John Safran was a close second with 43 days spent in New Hampshire. Gerald J. McManus claimed to have spent one month here, whereas Drucker and Griffin spent twelve days. Charles E. Collins was in New Hampshire for about two weeks.
      All candidates used some form of advertising and some had self-produced brochures. Those who could afford it used newspaper ads, though most relied on free press. Some had written to virtually all New Hampshire papers and TV stations before they came, requesting an interview or some coverage, and response was nil. The media should focus more on candidates' goals than electability, said one. The press didn't do their homework.
      The consensus of all who responded was that serious media coverage was very difficult to come by and that, were it not for the presidential forum provided by the New England Community Action Association, none of the candidates would have had much opportunity to address an audience larger than 80, except for James Griffin and Charles Collins. The most available medium for everyone was talk radio, particularly WGIR in Manchester and .1@VMVU in Nashua, two of the state's largest cities. Paulsen and Hamm reported they made good use of Internet to promote their candidacies, and most had prepared position papers ready for distribution.
      The candidates had many different suggestions on what criteria should be used to distinguish "fringe" from "major," such as how many states they had filed in; whether they bad ever run for or been elected to public office; the merit of their message, goal, or objective; and their integrity. "There is too much emphasis on money raised rather than on the issues," was one comment. "People seem genuinely concerned about the truth from candidates, wanting solutions to problems, not just talk."
      Most found New Hampshire people very friendly -, a few considered us "reserved "Thanks to all of the people of the state of New Hampshire and God bless America. Love to give people hope," was Willie Felix Carter’s message. "It was a great honor to be part of the history of the state of New Hampshire," wrote Russell J. Fornwalt. Other comments were: "Wonderful people all over the state." "I enjoyed the people in New Hampshire. They share with the nation the same concerns, dreams and aspirations’" "New Hampshire does a great job in letting a candidate know what happened. We are grateful." "I saw a high school classmate on election day that I hadn’t seen in over thirty years. We had a good exchange and I felt enriched by it." Despite some criticisms made in Sal Casamassima’s letter, he concluded, "I still love the beauty of your state and the spirit of its people. I hope to visit there again soon’"
      Half the respondents were happy with their total votes received; half were disappointed. "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I'll be back," wrote Gerald J. McManus, whose goal is to save western civilization. "The fringe candidate proves that democracy is alive and well. He or she gives a much needed dimension to the political process."

 

 
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