When Gerald Ford, who died Tuesday night, sought to keep the presidency in 1976, much of the primary season focused on little known Georgia Governor Jimmy Carterís amazing rise to national prominence. What is often lost in the discussion of that primary is that Ford defeated Ronald Reagan by the slimmest margin in New Hampshire Primary history.
Ford received 55,156 votes to Reaganís 53,569 votes that year. If you need signs to prove New Hampshire Primary has changed since then, look at the fact Ford visited New Hampshire only twice and left for China the weekend before the primary.
Although Ford was an incumbent Republican president, Reagan had support from the active conservative base, including then-Governor Meldrim Thompson and the Manchester Union Leader newspaper.