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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 Guide to US Elections (2nd ed.), published in 1985.  In the "Primary Returns" section, on page 423, it says:

June 6 New Jersey
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):

  1. The winner of New Jersey's delegates in 1972 was George McGovern.
  1. The winner of the 1972 New Jersey Primary was Shirley Chisholm.
  1. The first woman to win a presidential primary is Shirley Chisholm.  
  1. 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.

Originally posted to JR on Fri Jan 11, 2008 at 03:40 PM PST.

Poll

The first woman to win a Primary, in my view, is

59%36 votes
40%25 votes

| 61 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  And the MSM and folks here (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JR, anna shane

    yelled that Obama was the first African American to win a caucus or primary when in fact Jesse Jackson won at least two.  I think both Obama and Hillary should be given the title "first with a serious chance at party nomination to win..."

    Change does not come from hoping for it or demanding it but changes comes from working hard for it. This is why Hillary Clinton is the true agent of change.

    by EricRSINY on Fri Jan 11, 2008 at 03:42:59 PM PST

  •  tips/flames/methodological critiques (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SarahLee, Kitsap River, lgmcp, anna shane

    Without a doubt, the debate over the hsitorical accuracy of calling Clinton "the first woman to win a primary" was the most fun I've had here in some time.  Thanks to DCDemocrat, souvarine, eleanora, YoursTruly, Norwegian Chef, Delaware Dem, mcinma, litigatormom, and everyone else who provided such entertainment.  It was greatly appreciated!

    But few of us are destined to make a big difference in life; if I can make a little difference, that has to count for something. -G'Kar, 9/22/07 Rest in Peace

    by JR on Fri Jan 11, 2008 at 03:44:42 PM PST

  •  Harvey. (0+ / 0-)

    Chisholm couldn't possibly have won, being the original imaginary hip black friend and all. Imaginary "people" can't win primaries. So you gotta go with Clinton.

    (-2.75, -4.92) | Barack Obama: Our last chance for a long time...

    by Addison on Fri Jan 11, 2008 at 03:46:28 PM PST

  •  Thank you (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JR, lgmcp

    This is a great piece of political trivia.  As a fan of Jeanette Rankin I love reading about history like this.  

    ...that cannot be a wise contrivance which in its operation may commit the government of a nation to the wisdom of an idiot. Thomas Paine Rights of Man

    by Rebecca on Fri Jan 11, 2008 at 03:58:03 PM PST

  •  Having voted in '72 for Ms. Chisholm, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JR, rusrivman, lgmcp

    I choose to say Shirley Chisholm is the first woman to win a primary, since I have already believed that for a generation, and Senator Clinton can get the next "first woman to win the Democratic Party nomination" or some other title..

  •  Interesting distinction (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JR

    I guess Chisholm "won" morally, in the same sense that Gore with popular vote won in 2000.  But if you don't get the delegates, or the presidency, it's not quite as satisfying, is it?

    Cool research.

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Fri Jan 11, 2008 at 04:14:48 PM PST

    •  Found a longer essay on the same topic (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JR

      with some great personal reminicences and cool images: Chis for Pres!

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Fri Jan 11, 2008 at 04:16:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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