Skip to main content

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.


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

59%36 votes
40%25 votes

| 61 votes | Vote | Results

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

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:

    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:

      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 ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site