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| | | |-+  Why Do So Many Believe That RFK Would Have Won the Presidency in 1968?
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Author Topic: Why Do So Many Believe That RFK Would Have Won the Presidency in 1968?  (Read 3781 times)
johnpressman
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« on: May 02, 2012, 05:18:45 pm »
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It seems like a forgone conclusion today that; had Robert Kennedy lived he would have won the Presidency in 1968.  I was in High School in 1968 and closely followed the Presidential election, there was NO WAY that RFK would have won the Democratic Presidential Nomination, much less the general election.

Looking back  at those turbulent times, it is easy to believe that the Vietnam war protesters as representing the view of the majority of the over 21 electorate, and  Robert Kennedy as the heir apparent to his brother, whose destiny as POTUS was cut short of an assassin's  bullet.

Also, the Presidential nominating process was much different in 1968.  There were very few primaries  then, and much of the nominating process was decided by rank and file party members who were overwhelmingly opposed to both RFK and Eugene McCarthy and loyal to the sitting President, LBJ, who would have done ANYTHING to forestall a Kennedy nomination.  In fact, Johnson withdrew from the Presidential race in order to put forward Vice President Humphrey as a noncontroversial candidate that the Democratic party regulars could support. The reforms that the Democratic party enacted that led to the nomination of George McGovern and the 18 year old vote were things of the future. 

As for RFK's popularity, opinion polls showed him as the WEAKEST candidate to run against Nixon, running behind both Humphrey and McCarthy.  Should somehow, Kennedy have wrested enough delegates who were already pledged to Humphrey, which, by the way, was his stated goal, he would have lost in a landslide to Nixon, the perfect candidate for the circumstances of that year. Nixon was a man of the 1950s, which with the "hippies' Black Panthers, race riots and increase of crime, was what the American people craved; stability.  The idea of America pulling out of Vietnam, in essence, losing the war, was anathema to the majority of voting age citizens.  Nixon's "secret plan" stressed "Peace With Honor" not "cut and run".

To sum it up, had RFK lived, he would NOT have won the Democratic nomination in 1968, and, if somehow that would have come to pass, he would have lost decisively to Nixon, campaigning with  the wrong message for the times, leading a badly divided party, and with a sitting Democratic President working to sabotage him. In essence; 1968 is not 2008. or, for that matter, 2012.
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« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2012, 05:25:51 pm »
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Because they love him so much! I personally see him going to the convention, getting stalled by Humphrey, and waiting a good four to eight years to run again and have the experience and credibility to win.
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GPORTER
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« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2012, 11:28:19 pm »
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Because they don't believe that Nixon could have beaten him when it came down to it. Getting the nomination would be the difficult part, and if he had not, I suspect he would've run again in 1972 if Nixon won in the fall.

Also I don't realistically see him doing worse than McCarthy or Humphrey in the fall, especially McCarthy. I mean really?
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johnpressman
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« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2012, 11:15:52 am »
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I believe that RFK would have done worse that Humphrey if somehow he would have gotten the Democratic Presidential Nomination in 1968.

Humphrey was able to muster the rank and file of the Democratic Party, including organized labor that was still a powerful force in 1968.  The support of LBJ, the sitting President and a master of political power was another strong asset for HHH's campaign.  While the memory of Humphrey's  Civil Rights stand at the  1948 Democratic Convention may have led to a weakening of his support in the South, memories do fade after twenty years.

RFK, on the other hand, was not a favorite of either the Democratic Party stalwarts or big labor.  LBJ, would be a force AGAINST him, urging the party faithful to sit on their hands.  Kennedy's antiwar,  pro-minority and pro-youth message would have turned off the mostly white and over 21 electorate of 1968.  Do you see many Nixon or Wallace voters pulling the lever for RFK as opposed to HHH? I see Kennedy losing Texas and Pennsylvania (HHH took PA with strong support from labor unions)  and not wresting a single state from Nixon.  McCarthy was a wild-card, hard to tell if his cerebral, low-key campaign style would have much appeal in 1968.
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Jerseyrules
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« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2012, 05:33:00 pm »
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There's actually a great TL on ah.com about rfk waiting until 1976 to run
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« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2012, 07:03:25 pm »
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 College kids around the country who were tepid in their support for HHH, who were disillusioned by the killing of MLK and JFK would have enthustiastically came out and rallied in protest against Nixon against the Vietnam war.
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johnpressman
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« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2012, 11:54:42 am »
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Tell me you are kidding, OC.  Mayor Richard Daley supported Humphrey BEFORE Robert Kennedy was killed and pledged the Illinois delegation to HHH's candidacy.  What in the world would make him renounce his support for the President's handpicked candidate and change his views on the Vietnam War?  RFK and McCarthy's unenviable task was to persuade delegates ALREADY committed to Humphrey to change their minds and support them.

As for the general election, the "College kids' for the most part, were unable to vote in 1968 as the minimum age was still 21.  Furthermore, the Vietnam War protesters were a vocal minority, remember, 56% of the electorate of 1968 voted for Nixon and Wallace who supported the war.  You are making the mistake of viewing the Vietnam War protesters as representing the opinion of the majority of the over 21  voters of 1968.  The prospect of abandoning Vietnam to the Communists and, in effect, the United States' losing the first war in our history was anathema to most Americans.
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Mechaman
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« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2012, 12:45:56 pm »
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Cute fantasies.

That's why.
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23:19   Xahar   you're literally a white dude Mechaman
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« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2012, 12:18:48 pm »
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Because the Nixon prez went so wrong and people wanted someone like George Romney or a Bobby Kennedy that would have not taken the country through watergate.

What I was saying about the younger generation, HHH was very boring to alot of the Boomers who decided to sit the election out. They would have enthustiastically supported Bobby and possibly CA would have decided the election with the youth vote.
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Mechaman
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« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2012, 12:21:52 pm »
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Because the Nixon prez went so wrong and people wanted someone like George Romney or a Bobby Kennedy that would have not taken the country through watergate.

What I was saying about the younger generation, HHH was very boring to alot of the Boomers who decided to sit the election out. They would have enthustiastically supported Bobby and possibly CA would have decided the election with the youth vote.

So......the average American voter in 1968 could see the future!?

Wow, mind blown.
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23:19   Xahar   you're literally a white dude Mechaman
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« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2012, 12:26:54 pm »

Kurt Cobain-complex.
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johnpressman
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« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2012, 11:58:54 pm »
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The Boomers did sit out the election of 1968, BECAUSE THEY WERE TOO YOUNG TO VOTE!  Only those  born in the first two years of the baby boom; 1946 or 1947, were eligible to vote in 1968.  I was born in 1953 and was only 15 in 1968.  Do the math!  The preceding generation, called the SIlents, that were born in the years 1926 to 1945, was a very small group as the birthrate declined during the Great Depression and WW2.  The electorate skewed much older in 1968.  Older=conservative.
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« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2012, 01:29:59 am »
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Kurt Cobain-complex.

And Tupac and Bill Walton.  Jack and Bobby's legacies both benefited from their dying when they died.  It's now assumed that JFK would've been able to pass a better version of the entire Great Society (doubtful), and that RFK would've cruised in '68 and '72 and ushered in an era of liberal dominance (improbable, possible on a much smaller scale).
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« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2012, 02:12:57 am »
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Good points, johnpressman. I believe you are correct.

In retrospect, Johnson's decision to get America involved in Vietnam in late 1964 destroyed American liberalism at its height. The establishment Democrats at the time were too invested in proving their hawkish credentials after being traumatized by the ordeal of McCarthyism.
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Mechaman
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« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2012, 09:33:10 am »
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Well I can honestly say that it wasn't a guaranteed slam dunk for RFK.  At the same time, however, his chances at losing weren't a guarantee either.

There are just so many factors in the 1968 election that to assume anybody could've won is wishful thinking.  Hell not even Nixon was guaranteed to win, considering how after months of leading the polls Humphrey managed to get the race down to a dead heat between the two thanks to a bombing halt.
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Jerseyrules
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« Reply #15 on: May 13, 2012, 03:05:03 pm »
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If rfk won in 68 it would've been by a hair, and he risks an even more likely re-election after 12 years.  Reagan landslide in 76, with the GOP taking over congress in 74 at latest
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Endorsements:
Governor: Brown (CA), Corbett (PA), Scott (FL)
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johnpressman
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« Reply #16 on: May 13, 2012, 03:12:52 pm »
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I attended a Nixon for President rally on Halloween at Madison Square Garden when the bombing halt was announced to the crowd,  I don't think the bombing halt itself was the factor that made the election close, the Electoral College vote, however, was not close, even with LBJ's influence carrying Texas for Humphrey.

I believe that the general dislike of Nixon's personality, despite the "cool" campaign he ran in 1968, prevented many voters pulling the lever for him.  Other than that, he was the perfect candidate for that turbulent year, representing a return to a more stable past.  RFK, support for the poor and minorities, as well as his antiwar stand, cut against the grain for an electorate that were shell shocked by the events of that year.
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« Reply #17 on: May 13, 2012, 03:27:26 pm »
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So 1974 under RFK = 1994 under WJB?
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Jerseyrules
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« Reply #18 on: May 13, 2012, 05:41:03 pm »
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So 1974 under RFK = 1994 under WJB?

I would say 1970 would show slight GOP gains (depending on how 'Nam is going) and 1972 could see some noteworthy GOP pickups, because RFK would be fighting for his life, even against a weak nominee, thus the focus would be on the presidency, not congressional elections.  Reagan plays it cool, and campaigns mainly for congressional GOPers, knowing his time is 76.  1974 could be about the size of OTL 74, but with Dems on the receiving end after 14 years of democratic dominance.  I'd say between otl 66 and otl 74 size gains for GOP in TTL 74.  76 could bring GOP gains the size of otl 1980, at least in the house.
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http://uselectionatlas.org/FORUM/index.php?topic=147022.0

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http://uselectionatlas.org/FORUM/index.php?topic=156974.0

Quote
FOOL!  I AM Cathcon!

Endorsements:
Governor: Brown (CA), Corbett (PA), Scott (FL)
House: Emken (CA)
Other: Rob McCoy (CA Assembly)

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« Reply #19 on: May 13, 2012, 06:02:30 pm »
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RFK over/under 40%?
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« Reply #20 on: June 09, 2012, 09:07:45 pm »
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It seems obvious to me... his last name was "Kennedy".  Of course, you very well may have seen Kennedy vs. Nixon Part II if he had lived.
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