WINNING WITH FEWER VOTES—IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE. It is bizarre that two small states have such a large role in choosing the major party candidates for President. Kids, the way that journalists have determined which candidates have “won” each in those states is even more bizarre. This article by George E. Condon, Jr., has a good description of how the press has reported on the “winners” in Iowa since 1976. One of the examples in the article is 1984, when Walter Mondale got 48.9% of the vote and Gary Hart finished second with 16.5%. The positive media response to Hart’s showing gave a huge boost to his candidacy. The history of the New Hampshire primary has been the same. The process has often been described as being about “managing expectations”. The press has tended to declare the winner to be the candidate who most exceeded what had been expected. If you are a political adviser to a candidate, the challenge is to convince voters that your candidate will do well enough so a vote for the candidate will not be wasted, but to set the bar low enough so that your candidate can exceed it convincingly.

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