1980 New Hampshire Primary
New Hampshire's snowy, granite hills and bucolic small New England townships would, a month after the inconclusive Iowa caucuses did little to clear up the picture for either party, reveal themselves a major proving ground in what was already becoming an acrimonious and acidic primary on the Republican side. For the incumbent GOP, all guns turned on Dole, who had surprised with his strong Iowa finish, claimed that he had "the Big Mo" and declared, in a turn of phrase he would later admit to regret, "we shall continue the good work of the Ford administration into the Eighties!" BLS numbers just a few days before voters went to the polls in New Hampshire announced that unemployment had finally, two years after the Panama Crisis, breached the psychologically and politically significant mark of 10% 
and the administration's policy response was thrown into question from both left and right. The unemployment and inflation prints may not have directly impacted Dole's dire performance on the ground in a much less demographically and geographically friendly state, but they certainly did not help. Reagan's campaign was particularly aggressive, blanketing the Granite State with ads decrying "a bipartisan, big-government legacy of failure," suggesting that Reagan would break a two-party establishment that had thrust the country into this crisis; Connally, sensing weakness on Reagan's part with such a hard heel turn away from his sunny, "above the fray" strategy from before, chose a different line of attack, running on his record as a Texas Governor and promising "a New Start from a son of the New South." The "New Start" message was a number of things - it sounded hopeful, it cleanly broke with the Nixon-Ford legacy (of which Connally was a small part), and it could be credibly marketed as a conservative idea, since it was amicably vague. The surprise hit of Iowa, Crane, had no such luck in New Hampshire; despite his right-wing bona fides in New England's most famously rock-ribbed Republican state, his social conservative warrior persona was a poor fit for the old-line Yankee attitudes of the state's GOP base and an ad he cut with Phyllis Schlafly endorsing him wound up damaging him more with soft-libertarian voters than it would boost him with conservatives who regarded the big three candidates as more credible Presidential candidates. Nor was New Hampshire friendly to the race's moderates; Anderson's result in Iowa had been so puny that his niche had effectively collapsed by the time New Hampshire rolled around, even if he couldn't see it yet, and Baker seemed to be "running for '84" with his rhetoric, which served him well in picking up a slew of delegates in the relatively uncontested Vermont and Massachusetts contests the following week but failed to make many headlines with the remarkable turnaround in the Granite State.
In the end, New Hampshire would prove to be what rescued Reagan's campaign from humiliating also-ran status and what would surely have been a death blow to his gravitas as Connally zeroed in on South Carolina on March 8 and three other big, delegate-rich Southern states three days later. Reagan placed first in New Hampshire with 34% of the vote, hardly a dominating result but well ahead of Connally, who placed second at 25% with Dole lagging well behind at 19% and the rest of the big candidates taking smaller figures in the single to low-double digits. "From Fourth to First!" declared the Nashua Telegraph 
, and Reagan campaign headquarters popped plenty of champagne that night as their candidate barreled towards a showpiece showdown in South Carolina with Connally and would place an honorable second in Massachusetts and Vermont in the interim, earning nearly half the delegates in each behind Baker. New Hampshire defined the race as a three-way affair, with Dole the weakest despite his substantial establishment support (Baker, Anderson and Crane would be afterthoughts from here on out).
For the Democrats, New Hampshire was notable for other reasons - the complete and utter humiliation of Governor Dukakis of next door Massachusetts, who had bet the house on the Granite State but placed fourth behind the big three of Hugh Carey, who came narrowly in first with 25%, then Reuben Askew at 22%, then Mo Udall at 19%, whose campaign now seemed to be on life support after he was unable to leverage his squeaker win in Iowa into any semblance of momentum, thanks in large part to an uncoordinated, activist-driven campaign that seemed undisciplined and aloof, frustrating even the famously amiable Udall. Dukakis, barely breaching 10%, dropped out after winning the subsequent Massachusetts primary by a disappointingly narrow margin but declined to endorse any of his opponents quite yet, suggesting he would withhold his endorsement to leverage his influence (and the respectable haul of delegates he had out of populous Massachusetts). The race seemed to have a clear character just like after Iowa, though; Askew as the candidate of the South (both Udall and Carey largely eschewed campaigning south of the Mason-Dixon and focused instead on a substantial prize of delegates in Washington, Oklahoma, Illinois and the big kahuna at the end of March, New York) and the other two seeking to seize the rest of the country as best they could to arrest his likely domination of the former Confederacy ahead of what could in fact, mathematically, be a contested convention for the first time in decades...
 Remember, the late 1970s crisis has been worse with Panama creating a supply shock in effectively all industries and
the Miller Fed is already pursuing what we know IOTL as "Volckerism" with aggressive rate hikes; so unemployment numbers we would not see until late 1981/early 1982 IOTL are here starting to appear eighteen months early.
 The sponsor of OTL's "I'm paying for this microphone!" debate moment, which I've never understood quite why it made such an impact to be quite honest