List of New Hampshire Primary Winners Who Became President

The Granite State's Impact on Electoral Politics

Every four years a dozen or so presidential candidates and thousands of political journalists squeeze into the 9,350 square miles of New Hampshire, the fifth smallest of the United States of America, for a contest that appears to be more about tradition than deciding much in the way of choosing a commander-in-chief.

Related Story: New Hampshire Offers Only 4 Electoral Votes

The New Hampshire primary is the earliest presidential primary, and it's been that way since 1920. It really wasn't until 1952 when the Granite State's primary really drew interest and attention from the rest of the nation, though.

New Hampshire's Track Record

Despite the bright spotlight that shines on New Hampshire, for all of the proclamations of the state's importance in the process of choosing nominees, the state's voters haven't actually sided with a contested candidate - Republican or Democrat - who's gone on to win the presidential election that same year since 1988.

In recent years, the states voters haven't even sided with an eventual nominee.

For example, in 2008, Democratic voters in New Hampshire gave former U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton the win, and former U.S. Sen. Barack Obama ended up with both the party's nomination and the presidency.

In fact, only six candidates who were contested in the New Hampshire primaries since 1952 have gone on to win presidential elections. So who were they? Here's a list.

About This List

We excluded primaries in which an incumbent president was uncontested. For example, President Barack Obama did not face a viable Democratic opponent in the 2012 New Hampshire primary. And we looked at only the candidates who won the New Hampshire primary since 1952, when the content really became influential in American politics.

Former Vice President and President George H.W. Bush.
Former Vice President and President George H.W. Bush. Jason Hirschfeld/Getty Images News

The most recent winner of a contested New Hampshire primary to win the presidency that same year is George H.W. Bush. Bush was serving as vice president to President Ronald Reagan at the time he was running for president in 1988, so he certainly had an advantage in the Republican primaries. 

Nonetheless, Bush had to fend off U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, U.S. Rep. Jack Kemp and televangelist Pat Robertson in New Hampshire in his bid to secure the presidential nomination. Bush went on to win the presidential race that year against Democrat Michael Dukakis.  More »

Reagan Carter Debate Picture
Ronald Reagan is pictured here during a 1980 television debate with President Jimmy Carter just before the elections. Hulton Archives/Getty Images

Ronald Reagan was just an actor when he won the Republican New Hampshire primary in 1980. Among other Republicans, he beat out Bush, who was an ambassador at the time of his campaign. Reagan then went on to win the presidential race against incumbent Democrat Jimmy Carter, who became one of about a dozen one-term presidentsMore »

Gerald Ford
Gerald Ford Presidential Library

Democrat Jimmy Carter, the governor of Georgia, beat out of handful of candidates, including U.S. Rep. Mo Udall, to win New Hampshire in 1976. Carter went on to win the presidential election against Republican Gerald Ford.   More »

President Richard M. Nixon
President Richard M. Nixon. United States Congress

Richard Nixon, a former vice president at the time of his campaign, beat out fellow Republican George Romney to win the New Hampshire primary in 1968. Nixon went on to win the White House against Democratic nominee Hubert Humphrey.   More »

President John F. Kennedy
President John F. Kennedy. United States Congress

U.S. Sen. John F. Kennedy easily won the 1960 Democratic New Hampshire primary. He defeated Republican Richard Nixon in the general election.  More »

President Eisenhower Signs the Civil Rights Act of 1957
Eisenhower Library

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower won the Republican New Hampshire primary after his friends got him on the ballot in 1952. He defeated U.S. Sen. Robert A. Taft. Eisenhower went on to win the White House against Democrat Estes Kefauver that year. More »