Bill Clinton is pre-emptively downplaying the significance of any poor showing by his wife tonight and next week in New Hampshire, reminding everyone that he didn’t win a primary until Georgia in 1992.
It’s not an ideal analogy, though.
It is true that Clinton’s first ’92 win was in Georgia and that the state didn’t vote until March 3. But it’s important to remember two points:
1) Clinton may not have been the top vote-getter in New Hampshire in ’92, but he was the “winner” of the primary in the judgment of the media, which fed into the “Comeback Kid” storyline. Clinton’s campaign received a winner’s bounce from New Hampshire in ’92 — something that his wife would not enjoy if she were to finish anywhere but first there.
2) Georgia was actually one of the first contests in the ’92 cycle. Remember that the Iowa caucuses essentially did not take place in ’92 (every candidate ceded them to favorite son Tom Harkin). New Hampshire came second, and the only contests between New Hampshire and Georgia were in Maine and South Dakota. In Maine, Clinton lost to Jerry Brown and Paul Tsongas, but the contest was not considered a major event. And South Dakota was largely ceded to Nebraska’s Bob Kerrey, who won it with 40 percent, a victory that did nothing to reverse his campaign’s slide to oblivion. Georgia was considered Bill Clinton’s first test after his “win” in New Hampshire, so he entered the state with his momentum intact. That is not the condition Hillary would enter the next round of contests if she loses Iowa and New Hampshire.