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1968 Presidential Election
The United States presidential election of 1968 was the 46th quadrennial United States presidential election. It was a wrenching national experience, conducted against a backdrop that included the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. and subsequent race riots across the nation, the assassination of presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, widespread demonstrations against the Vietnam War across American university and college campuses, and violent confrontations between police and anti-war protesters at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.
On November 5, 1968, the Republican nominee, former Vice President Richard Nixon won the election over the Democratic nominee, Vice President Hubert Humphrey. Nixon ran on a campaign that promised to restore “law and order”. Some consider the election of 1968 a realigning election that permanently disrupted the New Deal Coalition that had dominated presidential politics for 36 years. It was also the last election in which two opposing candidates were vice-presidents.
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1968 Election Facts
- Wallace’s tally of 46 marks the most recent election that a 3rd party candidate has won Electoral Votes
- Nixon won North Carolina; however one elector cast a vote for Wallace
- Issues of the Day: Vietnam War, Civil Rights, Assassinations (Robert Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King)
1968 Election Results
|Candidate||Party||Electoral Votes||Popular Votes|
|✓||Richard M. Nixon||Republican||301||31,710,470|
|Hubert H. Humphrey||Democratic||191||30,898,055|
|George C. Wallace||American Independent||46||9,906,473|
Richard Nixon 1968 Presidential Campaign – 50th Anniversary
The 1968 Presidential campaign occurred during one of the most tumultuous times in American history. In an environment teeming with anger, violence, and hostility, Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey and George Wallace each sought the attention of American voters and the right to lead the United States into an unknown future.
The Vietnam War and the resulting protests, along with the political assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, contributed to these historic and difficult times. The animosity towards American participation in Vietnam pushed the incumbent President, Lyndon B. Johnson, to announce his withdrawal from the Democratic primaries and the race for the presidency.
As a result, the Democratic Party nomination opened up and two peace candidates, Senator Robert Kennedy of New York and Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota, competed in the remainder of the primaries following New Hampshire. After the assassination of Robert Kennedy following his primary victory in California, Hubert Humphrey became the favorite of establishment Democrats and earned the nomination in Chicago in the midst of riots protesting the war in Vietnam.
On the Republican side, Richard Nixon focused on issues such as law and order and won every primary he entered. He easily won the Republican nomination during a quiet convention in Miami, Florida. George Wallace, the former Governor of Alabama and a staunch segregationist, ran for President as an Independent. His support came mainly from the South and workers in industrial areas of the North and Midwest.
In the midst of all these trials and tribulations, Nixon – in a reversal of the 1960 election results – won a close election over Humphrey in the Electoral College – 301 to 191. Wallace finished third with 46 Electoral College votes.
Political Outsiders in US Presidential Elections
Alabama governor George Wallace rose to national prominence in 1963 for his strong stance against the integration of public schools in Alabama. In his inaugural speech for his first term as governor in January 1963, Wallace famously advocated for “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” Television viewers around the world saw Wallace’s “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door” later that year, in which he would attempt to halt the enrollment of black students Vivian Malone and James Hood at the University of Alabama. Wallace sought the Democratic nomination for president in 1964, 1972, and 1976, but ran as a third-party candidate for the American Independent Party in 1968 with the most success.
In 1968, Wallace ran on a platform similar to that of the Dixiecrats twenty years earlier that rejected the outside
intervention of the federal government on civil rights issues like education while also capitalizing on reactive white
fear and racism stirred up by recent civil rights gains like the Voting Rights Act, school integration, and anti-discrimination
laws. and In his campaign, Wallace appealed to white working and middle-class voters who feared for the safety of their jobs,
neighborhoods, and schools, by positioning the oppressed and overlooked “redneck” as the new outsider displaced by federal law
and black activism. so In the general election, Wallace won five states—Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, and
Arkansas—and their 46 electoral votes. More surprisingly, he won 13.5 % of the popular vote or almost 10 million votes that reflected widespread support from across the country.
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