BEDFORD, N.H. -- Tapping the fears and resentments of an anxious working class, Patrick J. Buchanan threw the Republican nomination up for grabs yesterday with a stunning upset of Sen. Bob Dole in the New Hampshire primary.
The race was the closest here in at least 20 years. Out of more than 200,000 votes cast, only about 2,300 votes separated the leaders.
Former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander, who badly wanted to finish in the top two, had to settle for third. Magazine publisher Steve Forbes, once a leader in the polls, was a distant fourth.
Mr. Buchanan, whose campaign successes have exposed deep divisions within the Republican Party, claimed victory, crediting the strength of his populist message of trade protectionism and social conservatism.
"We have shown that ideals, and convictions and passion and fire and energy can beat all the money they've got," declared the conservative commentator, who withstood a heavy TV ad assault from Mr. Dole and intense publicity over allegations of racism against a top official of his campaign.
"We've won a tremendous victory here tonight," Mr. Buchanan told an ecstatic crowd of supporters at a ballroom in Manchester, N.H. "But we've no longer got the element of surprise. All of the forces of the old order are going to rally against us."
Mr. Dole, for his part, vowed to contest Mr. Buchanan for "the heart and soul of the Republican Party" over the next month.
More than two dozen delegate contests are coming up, he said, and those would "decide if we are the party of fear or the party of hope [the party that] keeps people out or brings people in."
Showing more emotion than he has in recent weeks on the campaign trail, the Senate majority leader struck a defiant note.
"Everybody who knows Bob Dole knows that things haven't come easy for me. But we're not going to give up," he told supporters at a Manchester hotel, refusing to concede defeat in either New Hampshire or the nomination race. "We have not yet begun to fight."
Turnout was reported to be a record. Scattered rain fell and skies were cloudy throughout the state, but temperatures rose into the 40s, a mild, almost balmy, midwinter day in New England.
In the Democratic primary, the victor was President Clinton, who faced no serious opposition. Mr. Clinton broke a historical streak four years ago by becoming the first person to win the White House without winning New Hampshire (he was second to former Sen. Paul E. Tsongas of Massachusetts).
Yesterday's election was expected to weed out weaker GOP candidates, and at least one of them, industrialist Morry Taylor, appeared headed for the sidelines last night.
No Republican since 1964 has won the nomination without running first in New Hampshire, and Mr. Dole had spent millions in a futile effort to secure the victory that eluded him here in 1980, 1988 and now, again, yesterday.
"Now I know why they call this the Granite State. Because it's so hard to crack," he told supporters last night with a somewhat forced smile.
As he has at every stage of the campaign, Mr. Dole failed to meet the expectations set by his own campaign. Lackluster on )) the stump, he was unable to energize mainstream Republicans.
His candidacy steadily lost support over the past few weeks despite the backing of virtually the entire party establishment of this state, including popular Gov. Stephen Merrill, who campaigned almost nonstop for him.
Mr. Dole, who saw one of his main challengers, Sen. Phil Gramm, drop out after losing in Iowa, had hoped New Hampshire would at least eliminate another threat, Mr. Alexander. Last night, the senator argued that point, calling the GOP contest "a two-man race from now on. It's going to be a one-man race before long."
But Mr. Alexander vowed to stay in, insisting the nomination battle was now a three-man race, as did Mr. Forbes. Mr. Alexander hopes to win Saturday's primary in Delaware.
Mr. Alexander, whose attempts to raise badly needed campaign funds will be hampered by consecutive third-place finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, conceded that "it would be better if I were second" yesterday.
The former Tennessee governor said, "I have to start winning soon," meaning in the round of primaries between now and March 5.
Mr. Dole, Mr. Alexander said on CNN, is much weaker than expected. Having lost New Hampshire, "all the king's horses and all the king's men and all their money will not be able to put him back together again."
The results confirm that Mr. Buchanan is now driving the debate on the Republican side with his high-octane blend of economic and social policies aimed directly at Americans alienated from Washington and increasingly worried about getting hit by fallout from the global economy.
Mr. Dole acknowledged as much in an Election Day interview with a Boston radio station. Mr. Buchanan, he conceded, "strikes a nerve" by giving voice to the fears of those who feel threatened by a changing economy.
While Mr. Dole and Mr. Alexander split the vote of moderates -- roughly half the primary electorate -- Mr. Buchanan was the clear choice of the party's most conservative elements. He forged a diverse coalition of social and Christian conservatives and voters near the bottom of the income and education scale who responded to his outsider message, exit polls show.
In nearly upsetting Mr. Dole last week in Iowa, Mr. Buchanan relied mainly on that state's powerful bloc of religious conservatives and anti-abortion activists.
In New Hampshire, where those groups are far less numerous, his message was mainly an economic one, aimed at those who have already lost their jobs as a result of international competition, or are worried that theirs will be the next to go.
The exit polls revealed a deep-seated anxiety over the nation's future that seemed to be sharply at odds with the robust economy here. By most indicators, the New Hampshire economy is booming -- the jobless rate is 3.2 percent, far below the national average.
Mr. Buchanan's full-throated message became the driving force
of the campaign here and laid bare the pervasive fear that lies not far from the surface of this state's prosperity.
More than three voters in four said things in the country have seriously gotten off on the wrong track, according to a Los Angeles Times exit poll.
That deeply pessimistic view is even darker than the mood of the state four years ago, when New Hampshire was struggling to recover from a deep recession.
That year, Mr. Buchanan pulled 37 percent of the primary vote and exposed President George Bush's political weaknesses. Much of the Buchanan vote that year was dismissed as an anti-Bush protest. Indeed, Mr. Buchanan drew a similar level of support in other primaries, regardless of whether he personally campaigned or not.
New Hampshire Republicans told exit pollsters yesterday that they were not sending a message with their votes. Instead they were casting a positive vote in support of Mr. Buchanan's agenda of higher tariffs, restrictions on immigration, outlawing abortion and ending foreign aid.
Mr. Dole, who ran by far the most negative TV ads over the final week of the campaign, was hurt by his tactics, exit polls indicated.
He drew strength for his work on the budget deficit in Washington and the votes of those who said the quality they wanted most in a candidate was the ability to beat Mr. Clinton in November. As was the case last week in Iowa, Mr. Dole's greatest strength was among voters 65 and older.
But there were also signs that the "age issue" could be a growing problem for the 72-year-old senator, who is seeking to become the oldest man ever to become president.
About two of every five Republican voters said he was too old to be president; Mr. Alexander, who had the most support from younger voters, did best among those concerned about Mr. Dole's age.
Mr. Alexander also drew his support from moderates, supporters of abortion rights, those who said they were looking for a positive vision, and independents, who cast roughly one-third of the GOP primary vote.
The former Tennessee governor received additional backing from those who said they were offended by the negative tone of the campaign, which political veterans called the nastiest they've ever seen here.
One-fifth of all the voters waited until Election Day to make up their minds, an unusually large number of late deciders, and Mr. Alexander drew much of their support.
Here are the delegates won by each candidate in the Republican primary in New Hampshire yesterday (99 percent of precincts reporting).
Patrick J. Buchanan .. .. .. .. ..6
Sen. Bob Dole .. .. .. .. .. .. ..4
Lamar Alexander .. .. .. .. .. ...4
Steve Forbes .. .. .. .. .. .. ...2
Rep. Robert K. Dornan .. .. .. ...0
Alan L. Keyes .. .. .. .. .. .. ..0
Sen. Richard G. Lugar .. .. .. ...0
Morry Taylor .. .. .. .. .. .. ...0
Total -- .. .. .. .. .. .. .. . .16
New Hampshire primary results
Patrick J. Buchanan turns the Republican presidential race upside down by defeating the campaign' longtime front-runner. Sen. Bob Dole, in the crucial first primary.
Analysis: Dole's performance raises serious questions about his chances against Clinton (Page 4a).
Percentage of votes (99 percent counted)
Patrick J. Buchanan: . .. .. .. .. ..27
Sen. Bob Dole: .. .. .. .. .. .. ...26
Lamar Alexander:.. .. .. .. .. .. ...23
Steve Forbes:.. .. .. .. .. .. .. ...12
Sen. Richard G. Lugar:.. .. .. .. .. .5
Alan L. Keyes:.. .. .. .. .. .. .. ...3
Morry Taylor:.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .1
7+ Rep. Robert K. Dornan:.. .. .. .. .. .0
?3 Feb.27: Arizona, North Dakota and South Dakota.