A recent diary, DCDemocrat's "The First Woman To Win The Opening Primary", created a pleasant diversion from the usual bickering among partisans.
Initially, the diary had claimed Clinton was the first woman to win a presidential primary. YoursTruly noted that, actually, Shirley Chisholm had won the 1972 New Jersey primary. souvarine responded that, according to an archived NY Times article's abstract, McGovern won the primary.
So, who's right?
Long story short, both of them.
[UPDATE 7:52 pm EST - I've just noticed that DCDemocrat also has a follow-up to yesterday's discussion here. Certainly worth a read, and while (s)he and I seem to reach different conclusions, I appreciate the conversation and the plain old joy of historical debate, which I haven't had the honor of engaging in for too long.]
I thought YoursTruly was correct and that Chisholm had won in New Jersey, and only one other candidate was on the ballot (former North Carolina Governor Terry Sanford). To verify this, I did something I haven't done in far too long: I went to the local library here in Alexandria. Searching the elections section, I found Congressional Quarterly's , published in 1985. In the "Primary Returns" section, on page 423, it says:
Chisholm 51,433 66.9%
Sanford 25,401 33.1%
"Okay," I figured, "game, set and match."
But that New York Times abstract really had me curious, so (against the silent screaming of my better angels) I paid the $3.95 to purchase the whole thing.
In 1972, New Jersey held what was essentially a parallel election, where the state had a non-binding primary, and the counties selected delegates. McGovern won in about 5 out of 6 counties, and thus took most of the state's delegates, but Chisholm won the statewide Primary (which McGovern, Muskie, Humphry, and Jackson had all skipped).
So, history fans, by my interpretation of the facts (and feel free to argue any and all points I've raised, of course):
- The winner of New Jersey's delegates in 1972 was George McGovern.
- The winner of the 1972 New Jersey Primary was Shirley Chisholm.
- The first woman to win a presidential primary is Shirley Chisholm.
- The first woman to win a binding presidential primary is Hillary Clinton.
All this aside, my congratulations to Senator Clinton for her undeniably historic victory in New Hampshire.
We now return you to our regularly scheduled pie fights and flame wars.