1968 Democratic Party presidential primaries

The 1968 Democratic presidential primaries were the selection process by which voters of the Democratic Party chose its nominee for President of the United States in the 1968 U.S. presidential election. Incumbent Vice President Hubert Humphrey was selected as the nominee in the 1968 Democratic National Convention held from August 26 to August 29, 1968, in Chicago, Illinois.

Democratic Party presidential primaries, 1968

March 12 to June 11, 1968
  EugeneMcCarthy Robert F Kennedy crop StephenMYoung
Candidate Eugene McCarthy Robert Kennedy Stephen M. Young
Home state Minnesota New York Ohio
Contests won 6 4 1
Popular vote 2,914,933 2,305,148 549,140
Percentage 38.7% 30.6% 7.3%

  Black and White 37 Lyndon Johnson 3x4 George smathers
Candidate Lyndon B. Johnson George Smathers
Home state Texas Florida
Contests won 1 1
Popular vote 383,590 236,242
Percentage 5.1% 3.1%

Gold denotes a state won by Lyndon B. Johnson. Purple denotes a state won by Robert Kennedy. Green denotes a state won by Eugene McCarthy. Blue denotes a state won by George Smathers. Orange denotes a state won by Stephen M. Young. Grey denotes a state that did not hold a primary.

Previous Democratic nominee

Lyndon B. Johnson

Democratic nominee

Hubert Humphrey

Primary race

Though President Lyndon B. Johnson had served during two presidential terms, the 22nd Amendment did not disqualify Johnson from running for another term, because he had only served 14 months following John F. Kennedy's assassination before being sworn in for his 'full' term in January 1965. As a result, it was widely assumed when 1968 began that President Johnson would be a Democratic candidate, and that he would have little trouble in winning the Democratic nomination.

Despite the growing opposition to Johnson's policies in Vietnam in both Congress and in the public, no prominent Democratic politician was prepared to run against a sitting President of his own party. Anti-war activists of the new "Dump Johnson movement" initially approached Senator Robert F. Kennedy of New York, an outspoken critic of Johnson's policies with a large base of support, for a candidacy, but he declined to run. They then appealed to Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota, who was willing to openly challenge Johnson; prior to entering the race, McCarthy had hoped that Kennedy would run as well.[1] Running as an anti-war candidate in the New Hampshire primary, McCarthy hoped to pressure the Democrats into publicly opposing the Vietnam War. Trailing badly in national polls and with little chance to influence delegate selection absent primary wins, McCarthy decided to pour most of his resources into New Hampshire, the first state to hold a primary election. He was boosted by thousands of young college students who volunteered throughout the state, who shaved their beards and cut their hair to be "Clean for Gene."

On March 12, McCarthy won 42% of the primary vote to Johnson's 49%, an extremely strong showing for such a challenger, and one which gave McCarthy's campaign legitimacy and momentum. In a surprise move on March 16, Robert F. Kennedy renounced his earlier support for Johnson and proclaimed his candidacy. McCarthy and his supporters viewed this as opportunism, creating a lasting enmity between the campaigns.

Johnson withdraws

Johnson was now faced with two strong primary challenges. In declining health and facing bleak political forecasts in the upcoming primaries,[2] Johnson concluded that he could not win the nomination without a major political and personal struggle. On March 31, 1968, at the end of a televised address regarding the War, the President shocked the nation by announcing that he would not seek re-election. By withdrawing from the race, he could avoid the stigma of defeat and could keep control of the party machinery to support Hubert Humphrey, his loyal Vice President. As the year developed, it also became clear that Johnson believed he could secure his place in the history books by ending the war before the election in November, thus giving Humphrey the boost he would need to win.[3]

With Johnson's withdrawal, the New Deal Coalition effectively dissolved into support for different candidates:

  • Hubert Humphrey, Johnson's Vice President, gained the support of labor unions and big-city party bosses (such as Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley), who had been the Democratic Party's primary power base since the days of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was also believed that President Johnson himself was covertly supporting Humphrey, despite public claims of neutrality.
  • McCarthy rallied students and intellectuals who had been the early activists against the war in Vietnam;
  • Kennedy gained the support of the poor, Catholics, African-Americans, and other racial and ethnic minorities;
  • Conservative white Southern Democrats, or "Dixiecrats," their influence declining swiftly in the national party, tended to support either Vice President Humphrey or George C. Wallace and the Alabama governor's third-party campaign in the general election.

Contest for the Democratic nomination

After Johnson's withdrawal, Vice President Hubert Humphrey announced his candidacy on April 27.[4] Kennedy was successful in four state primaries (Indiana, Nebraska, South Dakota, and California) and McCarthy won six (Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Oregon, New Jersey, and Illinois); however, in primaries where they campaigned directly against one another, Kennedy won three primaries (Indiana, Nebraska, and California) and McCarthy won one (Oregon).[5] Humphrey did not compete in the primaries, leaving favorite sons to collect favorable surrogates, notably Senator George A. Smathers from Florida, Senator Stephen M. Young from Ohio, and Governor Roger D. Branigin of Indiana.

Humphrey's campaign concentrated on winning the delegates in non-primary states, where party leaders controlled the delegate votes. Kennedy defeated Branigin and McCarthy in the Indiana primary, and then defeated McCarthy in the Nebraska primary. However, McCarthy upset Kennedy in the Oregon primary.

After Kennedy's defeat in Oregon, the California primary was seen as crucial to both Kennedy and McCarthy. McCarthy stumped the state's many colleges and universities, where he was treated as a hero for being the first presidential candidate to oppose the war. Kennedy campaigned in the ghettos and barrios of the state's larger cities, where he was mobbed by enthusiastic supporters. Kennedy and McCarthy engaged in a television debate a few days before the election; it was generally considered a draw. On June 4, Kennedy defeated McCarthy in California, 46% to 42%, and also won the South Dakota primary held the same day. McCarthy, who defeated Kennedy in New Jersey that very same night, refused to withdraw from the presidential race and made it clear that he would contest Kennedy in the upcoming New York primary, where McCarthy had much support from antiwar activists in New York City.

After giving his victory speech at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, Kennedy was shot in the kitchen service pantry in the early morning of June 5. A Palestinian immigrant with Jordanian citizenship named Sirhan Sirhan was arrested. Kennedy died 26 hours later.

At the moment of Kennedy's death, the delegate totals were:


Only 14 states held primaries at this time (California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and West Virginia) in addition to Washington, D.C.[6]

Results by winners:[7]

Statewide results by winner

Eugene McCarthy Robert F. Kennedy Stephen M. Young Lyndon Johnson George Smathers Hubert Humphrey Unpledged
March 12 New Hampshire 42% 1% 0% 50% 0% 0% 0%
April 2 Wisconsin 56% 6% 0% 35% 0% 0% 0%
April 23 Pennsylvania 71% 11% 0% 4% 0% 9% 0%
April 30 Massachusetts 49% 28% 0% 3% 0% 18% 0%
May 7 Washington, D.C.[8] 0% 62% 0% 0% 0% 38% 0%
May 7 Indiana 27% 42% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
May 7 Ohio 0% 0% 100% 0% 0% 0% 0%
May 14 Nebraska 31% 52% 0% 6% 0% 7% 0%
May 14 West Virginia 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 100%
May 28 Florida 29% 0% 0% 0% 46% 0% 0%
May 28 Oregon 44% 38% 0% 12% 0% 3% 0%
June 4 California 42% 46% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
June 4 New Jersey 36% 31% 0% 0% 0% 20% 0%
June 4 South Dakota 20% 50% 0% 30% 0% 0% 0%
June 11 Illinois 39% 0% 0% 1% 0% 17% 0%

Total popular vote:[9]

Johnson/Humphrey surrogates:

minor candidates and write-ins:

Gallery of candidates

37 Lyndon Johnson 3x4

President Lyndon B. Johnson


Senator Stephen Young of Ohio

Democratic Convention and antiwar protests

Robert Kennedy's death threw the Democratic Party into disarray. The loss of his campaign, which had relied on his popularity and charisma convincing non-primary delegates to support him at the convention, meant that the anti-war movement was effectively kaput, and that Humphrey would be the prohibitive favorite for the nomination. Some of Kennedy's support went to McCarthy, but many of Kennedy's delegates, remembering their bitter primary battles with McCarthy, rallied around the late-starting candidacy of Senator George McGovern of South Dakota, a Kennedy supporter in the spring primaries.

When the 1968 Democratic National Convention opened in Chicago, thousands of young antiwar activists from around the nation gathered in the city to protest the Vietnam War. In a clash which was covered on live television, Americans were shocked to see Chicago Police officers brutally beating anti-war protesters. While the protesters chanted "the whole world is watching", the police used clubs and tear gas to beat back the protesters, leaving many of them bloody and dazed. The tear gas even wafted into numerous hotel suites; in one of them Vice President Humphrey was watching the proceedings on television. Meanwhile, the convention itself was marred by the strong-arm tactics of Chicago's mayor Richard J. Daley (who was seen on television angrily cursing Connecticut senator Abraham Ribicoff, who made a speech at the convention denouncing the excesses of the Chicago police in the riots).

In the end, the nomination itself was anticlimactic, with Vice President Humphrey handily beating McCarthy and McGovern on the first ballot. The convention then chose Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine as Humphrey's running mate. However, the tragedy of the antiwar riots crippled the Humphrey campaign from the start, and it never fully recovered. (White, pgs. 377-378;[10])

The Final Ballot
Presidential tally Vice Presidential tally:
Hubert Humphrey 1759.25 Edmund S. Muskie 1942.5
Eugene McCarthy 601 Not Voting 604.25
George S. McGovern 146.5 Julian Bond[11] 48.5
Channing Phillips 67.5 David Hoeh 4
Daniel K. Moore 17.5 Edward M. Kennedy 3.5
Edward M. Kennedy 12.75 Eugene McCarthy 3.0
Paul E. "Bear" Bryant 1.5 Others 16.25
James H. Gray 0.5
George Wallace 0.5

Source: Keating Holland, "All the Votes... Really," CNN[12]


Hubert Humphrey

Robert Kennedy

Eugene McCarthy

George McGovern (during convention)

See also


  1. ^ https://books.google.com/books?id=wMqSzTPXl7QC&pg=PA188&lpg=PA188&dq=eugene+mccarthy+robert+kennedy+whose+candidacy+mccarthy+encourage&source=bl&ots=3QrEfF8wx2&sig=ACfU3U3eezRrDbqarLJdqAGEGmkpJ0UXKQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwit5Nz4jbLgAhUi4IMKHcLgB4EQ6AEwE3oECAoQAQ#v=onepage&q=eugene%20mccarthy%20robert%20kennedy%20whose%20candidacy%20mccarthy%20encourage&f=false
  2. ^ Cook, Rhodes (2000). United States Presidential Primary Elections 1968–1996: A Handbook of Election Statistics. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press. p. 797. ISBN 9781568024516.
  3. ^ Dallek (1998); Woods (2006); Gould (1993).
  4. ^ Solberg, Carl (1984). Hubert Humphrey: A Biography. New York: W.W. Norton. p. 332. ISBN 9780393018066.
  5. ^ Cook, p. 12–13.
  6. ^ Cook, p. 6.
  7. ^ "Primaries, caucuses and conventions: Classic races for the presidential nomination". Oocities.com. Archived from the original on 2009-10-27. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  8. ^ "DC US President - D Primary Race - May 07, 1968". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g "US President - D Primaries Race - Mar 12, 1968". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  10. ^ a b c "US President - D Convention Race - Aug 26, 1968". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  11. ^ not eligible to serve as Vice President, because he was only 28-years old at the time
  12. ^ "AllPolitics - 1996 GOP NRC - All The Votes...Really". Cnn.com. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  13. ^ "SD US President - D Primary Race - Jun 04, 1968". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  14. ^ "Candidate - Harold Everett Hughes". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  15. ^ a b "CA US President - D Primary Race - Jun 04, 1968". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  16. ^ The Rise of a Prairie Statesman: The Life and Times of George McGovern, p. 405
1968 Democratic National Convention

The 1968 Democratic National Convention was held August 26–29 at the International Amphitheatre in Chicago, Illinois. As President Lyndon B. Johnson had announced he would not seek reelection, the purpose of the convention was to select a new presidential nominee to run as the Democratic Party's candidate for the office. The keynote speaker was Senator Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii). Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey and Senator Edmund S. Muskie of Maine were nominated for President and Vice President, respectively.

The convention was held during a year of violence, political turbulence, and civil unrest, particularly riots in more than 100 cities following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4. The convention also followed the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy on June 5. Both Kennedy and Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota had been running for the Democratic nomination at the time.

1968 Republican Party presidential primaries

The 1968 Republican presidential primaries were the selection process by which voters of the Republican Party chose its nominee for President of the United States in the 1968 U.S. presidential election. Former Vice President Richard Nixon was selected as the nominee through a series of primary elections and caucuses culminating in the 1968 Republican National Convention held from August 5 to August 8, 1968, in Miami Beach, Florida.

Robert Byrd

Robert Carlyle Byrd (born Cornelius Calvin Sale Jr.; November 20, 1917 – June 28, 2010) was an American politician who served as a United States Senator from West Virginia for over 51 years, from 1959 until his death in 2010. A member of the Democratic Party, Byrd previously served as a U.S. Representative from 1953 until 1959. He is the longest-serving U.S. Senator in history. In addition, he was, at the time of his death, the longest-serving member in the history of the United States Congress, a record later surpassed by Representative John Dingell of Michigan. Byrd was the last remaining member of the U.S. Senate to have served during the presidency of Dwight Eisenhower, and the last remaining member of Congress to have served during the presidency of Harry S. Truman. Byrd is also the only West Virginian to have served in both chambers of the state legislature and both chambers of Congress.Byrd served in the West Virginia House of Delegates from 1947 to 1950, and the West Virginia State Senate from 1950 to 1952. Initially elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1952, Byrd served there for six years before being elected to the Senate in 1958. He rose to become one of the Senate's most powerful members, serving as secretary of the Senate Democratic Caucus from 1967 to 1971 and—after defeating his longtime colleague, Ted Kennedy—as Senate Majority Whip from 1971 to 1977. Over the next three decades, Byrd led the Democratic caucus in numerous roles depending on whether his party held control of the Senate, including Senate Majority Leader, Senate Minority Leader, President pro tempore of the United States Senate and President pro tempore emeritus. As President pro tempore—a position he held four times in his career—he was third in the line of presidential succession, after the Vice President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Serving three different tenures as Chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations enabled Byrd to steer a great deal of federal money toward projects in West Virginia. Critics derided his efforts as pork barrel spending, while Byrd argued that the many federal projects he worked to bring to West Virginia represented progress for the people of his state. He filibustered against the 1964 Civil Rights Act and supported the Vietnam War, but later renounced racism and segregation, and spoke in opposition to the Iraq War. Renowned for his knowledge of Senate precedent and parliamentary procedure, Byrd wrote a four-volume history of the Senate in later life.

Near the end of his life, Byrd was in declining health and was hospitalized several times. He died in office on June 28, 2010, and was buried at Columbia Gardens Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

Thomas C. Lynch

Thomas Conner Lynch (May 20, 1904 – May 29, 1986) was an American lawyer who served as District Attorney in San Francisco and then as Attorney-General of California from 1964 to 1971. He was appointed to the post by Governor Pat Brown in 1964 to succeed Stanley Mosk, who was appointed to the state Supreme Court by Brown. He aided State Legislature in drafting significant legislation relating to law enforcement, including measures to control use of narcotics, to control promotion and sales of pornographic material and to control destructive devices and dangerous weapons. He also aided to improve the quality of law enforcement.

University of Virginia

The University of Virginia (U.Va. or UVA) is a public research university in Charlottesville, Virginia. It was founded in 1819 by Declaration of Independence author Thomas Jefferson. It is known for its historic foundations, student-run honor code, and secret societies. UVA is the flagship university of Virginia and home to Jefferson's Academical Village, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.The original governing Board of Visitors included Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe. Monroe was the sitting President of the United States at the time of its foundation and earlier Presidents Jefferson and Madison were UVA's first two rectors. Jefferson conceived and designed the original courses of study and original architecture. UVA was the first university of the American South elected to the research-driven Association of American Universities in 1904 and remains the sole AAU research university in Virginia. The journal Science credited UVA faculty with two of the top ten scientific breakthroughs of 2015.The University of Virginia offers 121 majors across the eight undergraduate and three professional schools. Its alumni have founded a large number of companies, such as Reddit, which together produce more than $1.6 trillion in annual revenue and have created 2.3 million jobs. The historic 1,682-acre (2.6 sq mi; 680.7 ha) campus has been ranked as one of the most beautiful collegiate grounds in the country. The university additionally maintains 562 acres north of the campus at UVA Research Park, and 2,913 acres southeast of the city at Morven Farm. Moreover it manages the College at Wise in Southwest Virginia and until 1972 managed George Mason University and the University of Mary Washington in Northern Virginia.

Virginia student athletes are called Cavaliers and top the Atlantic Coast Conference in men's team NCAA Championships with 19, ranking second in overall and women's NCAA titles. Virginia men's basketball won the NCAA Tournament Championship in 2019 to join several Cavalier teams in winning recent high-profile NCAA Championship events including the College World Series, College Cup, and NCAA Tennis Championships. The entire men's program was awarded the Capital One Cup in 2015 for leading the nation in overall athletics excellence.

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