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December 07, 2019, 05:10:09 am
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  Past Election What-ifs (US) (Moderators: Tegridy Farms, Apocrypha)
  1968: Robert Kennedy vs. Richard Nixon vs. George Wallace
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Author Topic: 1968: Robert Kennedy vs. Richard Nixon vs. George Wallace  (Read 1124 times)
538Electoral
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« on: August 02, 2019, 11:59:16 pm »

What do you guys think 1968 would've looked like had Robert Kennedy not been assassinated?
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MillennialModerate
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« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2019, 10:06:17 am »
« Edited: August 03, 2019, 05:58:10 pm by MillennialModerate »

First off, I think had he lived it’s almost a lockstep guarantee that RFK becomes President. The question is whether it happens in ‘68 or later on. Back then the nominating process wasn’t all about the primaries. They played a role in giving the delegates and party bosses clues about who they should pick but it wasn’t the whole ballgame & despite both being unpopular AND his lame duck status President Johnson did have some control and influence over the convention. So I’m sure he would have done everything in his power to make sure RFK didn’t win the nomination.

With that being said it’s not a sure thing he DOESN'T get it. He won all but 1 of the primaries he entered. He won the “big one”, California - in impressive fashion. He appealed to both moderates and liberals alike. He had the support of white working class voters and support of the African American community. Then there was the sympathy vote of being a Kennedy and also a deep yearning by the electorate to return to Camelot and a return to the America that ceased to exist after Dallas.

Now IF Mayor Daley thought RFK would carry Illinois and another candidate couldn’t. If RFK’s primary wins were considered impressive enough. If the delegates and party bosses were persuaded by the grass roots support that Bobby’s campaign was fueled by - IF Robert F Kennedy DID win the nomination in 1968: Here is what would happen.

I think that RFK’s weakness would clearly be in the once solid south. SO he would pick Terry Sanford as his running mate. Because of this I think he pulls over a lot of moderate voters who voted for both Nixon and Wallace, giving him North Carolina’s electoral votes. Unfortunately I don’t think the VP pick has much of an impact elsewhere in the South. I think Texas goes to Nixon because RFK being seen as someone not exactly in tune with LBJ.... However: virtually everywhere else RFK improves upon what Humphrey did. Including taking Nixons home state and the mother load of electoral votes: California. RFK carries almost all of the states Humphrey lost by under 4 points - including Missouri, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Ohio, Illinois, Delaware and perhaps most surprisingly of all: Alaska - all go to Bobby. Meanwhile in the northeast, RFK garners MAJOR support. Winning every single electoral vote in that region. Nationwide, Massachusetts the home base of the Kennedy’s proves to be his strongest state where he gets an astounding 78% of the vote. In neighboring Rhode Island he also crosses the 70% threshold as well. Elsewhere in New England, he flips two Republican strongholds of Vermont and New Hampshire, winning then each by 3-5 points each. In the Midwest the Mayor Daley machine proves decisive for the Kennedy’s once again - giving RFK a massive plurality leading to him carrying the state with 55% of the vote.




Sen. Robert Kennedy/ Gov. Terry Sanford328 • 48.4%
VP Richard Nixon/ Gov. Spiro Agnew154 • 40.9%
Gov. George Wallace/ Curtis Lemay56 • 10.3%
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morgankingsley
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« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2019, 04:25:58 pm »

Give Wallace south Carolina and I agree
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MillennialModerate
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« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2019, 05:58:33 pm »

First off, I think had he lived it’s almost a lockstep guarantee that RFK becomes President. The question is whether it happens in ‘68 or later on. Back then the nominating process wasn’t all about the primaries. They played a role in giving the delegates and party bosses clues about who they should pick but it wasn’t the whole ballgame & despite both being unpopular AND his lame duck status President Johnson did have some control and influence over the convention. So I’m sure he would have done everything in his power to make sure RFK didn’t win the nomination.

With that being said it’s not a sure thing he DOESN'T get it. He won all but 1 of the primaries he entered. He won the “big one”, California - in impressive fashion. He appealed to both moderates and liberals alike. He had the support of white working class voters and support of the African American community. Then there was the sympathy vote of being a Kennedy and also a deep yearning by the electorate to return to Camelot and a return to the America that ceased to exist after Dallas.

Now IF Mayor Daley thought RFK would carry Illinois and another candidate couldn’t. If RFK’s primary wins were considered impressive enough. If the delegates and party bosses were persuaded by the grass roots support that Bobby’s campaign was fueled by - IF Robert F Kennedy DID win the nomination in 1968: Here is what would happen.

I think that RFK’s weakness would clearly be in the once solid south. SO he would pick Terry Sanford as his running mate. Because of this I think he pulls over a lot of moderate voters who voted for both Nixon and Wallace, giving him North Carolina’s electoral votes. Unfortunately I don’t think the VP pick has much of an impact elsewhere in the South. I think Texas goes to Nixon because RFK being seen as someone not exactly in tune with LBJ.... However: virtually everywhere else RFK improves upon what Humphrey did. Including taking Nixons home state and the mother load of electoral votes: California. RFK carries almost all of the states Humphrey lost by under 4 points - including Missouri, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Ohio, Illinois, Delaware and perhaps most surprisingly of all: Alaska - all go to Bobby. Meanwhile in the northeast, RFK garners MAJOR support. Winning every single electoral vote in that region. Nationwide, Massachusetts the home base of the Kennedy’s proves to be his strongest state where he gets an astounding 78% of the vote. In neighboring Rhode Island he also crosses the 70% threshold as well. Elsewhere in New England, he flips two Republican strongholds of Vermont and New Hampshire, winning them each by 3-5 points each. In the Midwest the Mayor Daley machine proves decisive for the Kennedy’s once again - giving RFK a massive plurality leading to him carrying the state with 55% of the vote.




Sen. Robert Kennedy/ Gov. Terry Sanford328 • 48.4%
VP Richard Nixon/ Gov. Spiro Agnew146 • 40.7%
Gov. George Wallace/ Curtis Lemay64 • 10.5%

How’s that?
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North Fulton Swing
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« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2019, 06:56:40 pm »

RFK was a hero and inspiration to millions, and if had not died in June 1968, I agree that he would have become President someday. 

In 1968, his nomination was going to be difficult because even when he was winning the California primary, Humphrey was running up the vote in the non-primary states.  And I'm sure that Eugene McCarthy would not willingly release his delegates to Kennedy.

With RFK and Sanford as the nominees, I don't think they would won NC.  And I'm not sure they could have won OH or WI.  Plus, the upper New England states would have stayed Republican.  IL and CA were possibilities, but as you note, they would have lost TX.

Still, your 10.5% vote to Wallace (less than the 13.6% he did receive) and a higher electoral vote in the South indicates that his vote was much more regional and that vote in the states with high union households had dropped off from the actual result.  If that were the case, it would be likely that he would have picked off IL, OH, and WI--which would have thrown the election into the House.  And then he would need CA to win the election outright.
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morgankingsley
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« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2019, 05:34:37 am »

First off, I think had he lived it’s almost a lockstep guarantee that RFK becomes President. The question is whether it happens in ‘68 or later on. Back then the nominating process wasn’t all about the primaries. They played a role in giving the delegates and party bosses clues about who they should pick but it wasn’t the whole ballgame & despite both being unpopular AND his lame duck status President Johnson did have some control and influence over the convention. So I’m sure he would have done everything in his power to make sure RFK didn’t win the nomination.

With that being said it’s not a sure thing he DOESN'T get it. He won all but 1 of the primaries he entered. He won the “big one”, California - in impressive fashion. He appealed to both moderates and liberals alike. He had the support of white working class voters and support of the African American community. Then there was the sympathy vote of being a Kennedy and also a deep yearning by the electorate to return to Camelot and a return to the America that ceased to exist after Dallas.

Now IF Mayor Daley thought RFK would carry Illinois and another candidate couldn’t. If RFK’s primary wins were considered impressive enough. If the delegates and party bosses were persuaded by the grass roots support that Bobby’s campaign was fueled by - IF Robert F Kennedy DID win the nomination in 1968: Here is what would happen.

I think that RFK’s weakness would clearly be in the once solid south. SO he would pick Terry Sanford as his running mate. Because of this I think he pulls over a lot of moderate voters who voted for both Nixon and Wallace, giving him North Carolina’s electoral votes. Unfortunately I don’t think the VP pick has much of an impact elsewhere in the South. I think Texas goes to Nixon because RFK being seen as someone not exactly in tune with LBJ.... However: virtually everywhere else RFK improves upon what Humphrey did. Including taking Nixons home state and the mother load of electoral votes: California. RFK carries almost all of the states Humphrey lost by under 4 points - including Missouri, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Ohio, Illinois, Delaware and perhaps most surprisingly of all: Alaska - all go to Bobby. Meanwhile in the northeast, RFK garners MAJOR support. Winning every single electoral vote in that region. Nationwide, Massachusetts the home base of the Kennedy’s proves to be his strongest state where he gets an astounding 78% of the vote. In neighboring Rhode Island he also crosses the 70% threshold as well. Elsewhere in New England, he flips two Republican strongholds of Vermont and New Hampshire, winning them each by 3-5 points each. In the Midwest the Mayor Daley machine proves decisive for the Kennedy’s once again - giving RFK a massive plurality leading to him carrying the state with 55% of the vote.




Sen. Robert Kennedy/ Gov. Terry Sanford328 • 48.4%
VP Richard Nixon/ Gov. Spiro Agnew146 • 40.7%
Gov. George Wallace/ Curtis Lemay64 • 10.5%

How’s that?

That's good to me
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Congrats Senator Manny Sethi
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« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2019, 11:23:59 am »

Thing was, post 1960 and 1962, Nixon was a mastermind politician. He learned from his errors and was able to find a flaw in an opponent and exploit it. he would rip apart Kennedy on a great many things (Such as Kennedy losing to Reagan in '66). I'm not saying RFK can't win, but he's vastly overrated. He'd win but only barely against a mastermind. Maybe a 2-3% NPV win and only a little over the needed 270 EVs.
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« Reply #7 on: August 08, 2019, 11:37:02 am »

I think Nixon wins. Sanford is seen as a traitor to the region by Southern conservatives, Connally and LBJ would throw TX to Nixon, and suburbanites were turned off by RFK's campaigning style. Daley stuck with HHH partially because he believed Humphrey would divide the party less.
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MillennialModerate
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« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2019, 10:55:39 am »

Thing was, post 1960 and 1962, Nixon was a mastermind politician. He learned from his errors and was able to find a flaw in an opponent and exploit it. he would rip apart Kennedy on a great many things (Such as Kennedy losing to Reagan in '66). I'm not saying RFK can't win, but he's vastly overrated. He'd win but only barely against a mastermind. Maybe a 2-3% NPV win and only a little over the needed 270 EVs.

Kind of sending mixed signals here.

I have a hard time seeing him lose if he got the nomination. Otherwise he’s a shoe in for ‘76
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L.D. Smith
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« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2019, 11:35:35 pm »
« Edited: August 13, 2019, 11:41:07 pm by L.D. Smith »

I dunno, something like



Sen. Robert F. Kennedy/Fmr. Gov. J. Terry Sanford 276 EV, 45% pv
Fmr. VP Richard M. Nixon/Gov. Spiro Agnew 189 EV, 41% pv
Gov. George C. Wallace/Curtis LeMay 53 EV, 14% pv
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connally68
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« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2019, 10:21:20 am »

Robert Kennedy's biggest problem in 1968 would have been winning the nomination, not the general election. I think Fulbright would have been his most likely v.p. pick.
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connally68
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« Reply #11 on: August 25, 2019, 10:29:37 am »

If elected Vietnam would have ended at the latest by late 71 or early 72. I stand by that. With the war over by 1972 he would win a 2nd term pretty easily. Like I said his most uphill battle would be winning in Chicago in 1968. The doves did not gain dominance in the Democratic Party until 1972.
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connally68
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« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2019, 09:59:24 pm »



Sen. Robert Kennedy/ Sen. William Fulbright 292 electoral votes
Fmr. Vice-Pres. Richard Nixon/ Gov. Spiro Agnew 207 electoral votes
Fmr. Gov. George Wallace/ Gen. Curtis LeMay 39 electoral votes
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Tegridy Farms
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« Reply #13 on: August 31, 2019, 05:16:29 pm »

Robert Kennedy's biggest problem in 1968 would have been winning the nomination, not the general election. I think Fulbright would have been his most likely v.p. pick.

Two problems with your VP selection.

- Fulbright himself was up for reelection in 1968 and it's quite possible he'd rather opt to secure another term rather than risk everything, including considerable seniority in the Senate, in an uncertain presidential race.
- His vote against the 1964 Civil Rights Act would make Fulbright's nomination very difficult.
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connally68
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« Reply #14 on: November 06, 2019, 10:04:47 pm »

Johnson would have privately voted for and supported Nixon.
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johnpressman
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« Reply #15 on: November 10, 2019, 01:29:46 pm »

Robert Kennedy would not have won the Democratic nomination for President in 1968. The thought that RFK would have won had he lived is just romantic hindsight.  I include a video from ABC TV analyzing his chances on the very day he won the California primary.  Hubert Humphrey already had a majority or near majority of the delegates pledged to him. The Video is Here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMr97_M7okw

RFK even states in the interview that without Eugene McCarthy's support, unifying the anti-war candidates for President, he would not be able to win the nomination.  McCarthy and, for the most part, McCarthy's supporters, hated Kennedy.

Here is "On To Chicago" a terrific book on this very subject; if RFK had lived: https://www.amazon.com/Chicago-Rediscovering-Robert-Kennedy-Campaign/dp/1944229981

Should somehow, RFK had won the Democratic nomination, he would be leading a badly fractured party, with a sitting President of his own party in opposition, and with George Wallace taking formerly Democratic votes in the South and industrial Midwest and North.  He would have lost the election much more handedly than Humphrey did.

America was a much more conservative nation in 1968 and the voting age was 21, not 18.  Nixon was the perfect candidate for that year. A nostalgic figure who promised to restore law and order to a chaotic, violent time in America's history.
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« Reply #16 on: November 16, 2019, 09:09:18 am »

Johnson would have privately voted for and supported Nixon.

I do not believe that.  As much as LBJ hated RFK, I believe that Johnson would have given RFK an endorsement.  LBJ's great liberal legacy was Civil Rights, and he wasn't going to trash that for history.

LBJ endorsed McGovern in 1972.  I believe that doing so helped the way he was viewed by liberal historians, and why his ranking amongst Presidents has risen over time.  If he had endorsed Nixon, he'd have been seen as rejecting the positive part of his legacy, and he wouldn't have had the upward reassessment as a President that he has posthumously experienced.
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johnpressman
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« Reply #17 on: November 16, 2019, 02:10:02 pm »

LBJ would not have endorsed Nixon.  However, if somehow RFK was the Democratic Presidential Nominee in 1968, LBJ would have worked against him behind the scenes. LBJ hated Bobby and was convinced that he would have abandoned Vietnam and would have blamed Johnson for the debacle.

RFK would not have won Texas or any of the Southern or Border States, the Wallace vote would have increased, further cutting into the Democratic tally in the North and Midwest.  RFK was seen as a polarizing figure and the American electorate in 1968 yearned for stability in that chaotic and violent year.

Nixon was the perfect candidate for 1968.  He reminded voters of a more serene and stable time and his foreign policy credentials convinced them of his ability to handle the Vietnam war and relations between the superpowers.
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