MANCHESTER, N.H.--Hundreds of jubilant staffers and voters piled into a renovated ware-house here to congratulate Gov. Michael S. Dukakis on his overwhelming victory yesterday--the largest margin in the history of the nation's first primary.
Chewing on pizza and hot dogs with all the fixings and with a recording of Neil Diamond's "America" playing in the background, supporters listened to the governor thank New Hampshire for giving him a strong and much-needed victory.
In the past week, Dukakis staffers intensified their campaigning and media blitz in an effort to quell fears that the governor was slipping in popularity following his third place showing in the Iowa caucuses.
The neighboring governor faced heavy pressure for a good showing in New Hampshire yesterday, where he was expected to do well because of his vocal opposition to the Seabrook nuclear power plant and his frequent appearances on Massachusetts news broadcasts seen in the state.
Dukakis's victory was widely seen to be a triumph of organization on par with the extraordinary organizing drive that catapaulted Republican helpful Pat Robertson to victory in Iowa.
The Dukakis campaign, which all camps described as impeccably well-organized, claimed to have made 250,000 calls to test the preferences of New Hampshire's 145,000 voters. The Dukakis canvassers set out in teams, each armed with a high-lighted section of the Manchester city map and a set of computer cards identifying voters by everything from their ratings on a five point scale to special interests or activities.
The win is certain to set the pace for Dukakis march South this week, where he will join the six other Democratic contenders in a contest which is predicted to be close.
While political experts predicted a win in New Hampshire, they stressed that the victory needed to be extremely solid in order for him to be a viable candidate in the Democratic race. Yesterday's results gave Dukakis 36 percent of the vote with 93 percent of the precincts reporting, a significant margin over the second place winner Gephardt with 20 percent and Simon with 17 percent.
"Last week, in lowa, our message started to shine through," Dukakis said last night. "We won a bronze. Tonight our message came through loud and clear. We went for the gold, and we won it," the governor said as his wife Kitty placed a gold medal around his neck.
"It's a message tonight that goes far beyond New Hampshire and New England--a message that speaks to all Americans," Dukakis said.
Though Dukakis was successful in most regions in the state, his victory was not complete. The governor lost in Manchester to Gephardt, a surprising defeat for Dukakis, whose appeal is directed at urban areas.
"He lost in an industrial area that he should have won because they repesent the people that his message stands for," said Bernard Weisman, a volunteer from Massachusetts who spent yesterday campaigning for the governor.
"You have to carry the large cities--those small towns don't count as much," Weisman said, refferring to Dukakis's sweeping victory in most of New Hampshire's smaller towns.
However, Dukakis downplayed Gephardt's Manchester victory. "Have you been reading the Manchester Union-Leader? Well I think that explains it," he said referring to the conservative newspaper, which has traditionally attacked liberals of Dukakis's stripe. "I thought we did very well considering that."
Although some pundits said Dukakis needed 50 percent of the vote to be a serious contender, the governor's huge margin of victory yeasterday will lend significant credibilty to his campaign.
In upcoming weeks, the governor will need to build strength in the South, where he faces tough competition from Sen. Albert Gore '69 and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who have solid support in the region, and from Gephardt, whose Iowa victory and second place finish in New Hampshire will continue to fuel his momentum.
Simon's campaign had been counting on a second place finish here in order to prevent the race from becoming a Dukakis-Gephardt showdown. When asked if Simon's third place finish will force the Illinois senator out of the race, Dukakis said, "No, I don't, but I think it would be very difficult for him now."
Dukakis Departs on Tour of the SouthBOSTON--Gov. Michael S. Dukakis hits the road again today to talk about housing issues on Capitol Hill and meet with
Dukakis Discusses 1996 Presidential ElectionIn a speech at the Kennedy School yesterday, former Massachusetts governor Michael S. Dukakis said the most important issue facing
Duke TalksGovernor Michael S. Dukakis yesterday suggested he would sign into law a bill that would suspend Sunday closing laws for
Dukakis Concludes Iowa TripGovernor Michael S. Dukakis returned yesterday from Iowa amid popular speculation that his two-day trip was the first step toward
Dukakis Speaks at Institute of PoliticsAlthough he made light of his own presidential bid, former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis urged students to go into politics
Making the Spirit of Massachusetts Fit the Spirit of AmericaWhen Gov. Michael S. Dukakis, today's Class Day speaker, decided this spring to run for the Democratic presidential nomination, many