United States presidential election, 1964

United States presidential election, 1964
United States
←  1960 November 3, 1964 1968 →

All 538 electoral votes of the Electoral College
270 electoral votes needed to win
Turnout 61.9% [1] Decrease 0.9 pp
  Black and White 37 Lyndon Johnson 3x4.jpg BarryGoldwater.png
Nominee Lyndon B. Johnson Barry Goldwater
Party Democratic Republican
Home state Texas Arizona
Running mate Hubert Humphrey William E. Miller
Electoral vote 486 52
States carried 44 + DC 6
Popular vote 43,127,041 27,175,754
Percentage 61.1% 38.5%

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Presidential election results map. Blue denotes those won by Johnson/Humphrey, red denotes states won by Goldwater/Miller. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state.

President before election

Lyndon B. Johnson
Democratic

Elected President

Lyndon B. Johnson
Democratic

The United States presidential election of 1964 was the 45th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 3, 1964. Democratic candidate and incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson had come to office less than a year earlier following the assassination of his predecessor John F. Kennedy. Johnson, who had successfully associated himself with Kennedy’s popularity, won 61.1% of the popular vote, the highest win by a candidate since James Monroe’s re-election in 1820. It was the most lopsided US presidential election in terms of popular votes, and the tenth-most lopsided presidential election in the history of the United States [nb 1] in terms of electoral votes. No candidate for president since has equalled or surpassed Johnson’s percentage of the popular vote, and since 1820, only Abraham Lincoln in 1864, Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936, Richard Nixon in 1972 and Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984 have won by a greater electoral vote margin.

The Republican candidate, Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona, suffered from a lack of support from his own party and his deeply unpopular political positions. Johnson’s campaign advocated a series of anti-poverty programs collectively known as the Great Society, and successfully portrayed Goldwater as being a dangerous extremist. Johnson easily won the Presidency, carrying 44 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, which voted for the first time in this election. Goldwater carried the remaining six states in what would be the first election to see a total of fifty states carried by presidential candidates. [nb 2]

Goldwater’s unsuccessful bid influenced the modern conservative movement and the long-time realignment within the Republican Party, which culminated in the 1980 presidential victory of Ronald Reagan. His campaign received considerable support from former Democratic strongholds in the Deep South and was the first Republican campaign to win Georgia in a presidential election. Conversely, Johnson won Alaska for the Democrats for the first (and only) time, as well as Maine (for the first time since 1912) and Vermont (for the first time since the Democratic Party was founded). Since 1992, Vermont has rested solidly in the Democratic column for presidential elections, and Maine was so until 2016, while Georgia has remained in the Republican presidential fold since 1996.

No post-1964 Democratic presidential candidate has been able to match or better Johnson’s performance in the electoral college (the only candidates to do so since have been Nixon in 1972 and Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984, both of whom were Republicans and won all but one state and the District of Columbia), or Johnson’s performance in the Mountain and Midwestern regions of the United States.

As of 2017, this is the last time Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska (At-large, excluding 2nd congressional district), North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming voted for the Democratic candidate. This is also the most recent presidential election when a Democrat broke at least 400 electoral votes.

Assassination of President John F. Kennedy

President and Mrs. Kennedy on the day of his assassination

While on the first campaign swing of his re-election effort, President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas. Supporters were shocked and saddened by the loss of the charismatic President, while opposition candidates were put in the awkward position of running against the policies of a slain political figure. [2]

During the following period of mourning, Republican leaders called for a political moratorium, so as not to appear disrespectful. [3] As such, little politicking was done by the candidates of either major party until January 1964, when the primary season officially began. At the time, most political pundits saw Kennedy’s assassination as a way of leaving the nation politically unsettled. [2]

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