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Mateusz Popiel Justin Rhudolph The United States presidential election of 1968 was a wrenching national experience, and included the assassination of Democratic candidate Robert F. Kennedy, the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. and subsequent race riots across the nation, the violence at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and widespread demonstrations against the Vietnam War across American university and college campuses. The election also featured a strong third-party effort by former Alabama governor George Wallace; although Wallace's campaign was frequently accused of promoting racism, he would prove to be a formidable candidate, and as of 2008 was the last third-party candidate to win an entire state's electoral votes. In the end, Republican Richard M. Nixon narrowly won the election over Democrat Hubert H. Humphrey on a campaign promise to restore "law and order". The election of 1968 was a realigning election that ended the Democratic realignment started by Franklin Roosevelt in 1932. Republican Candidates: Clifford P. Case, U.S. senator from New Jersey Hiram L. Fong, U.S. senator from Hawaii Richard M. Nixon, former Vice President and 1960 presidential nominee from California Ronald W. Reagan, Governor of California James A. Rhodes, Governor of Ohio and candidate for the 1964 nomination Nelson A. Rockefeller, Governor of New York and candidate for the 1960 and 1964 nominations George W. Romney, Governor of Michigan and candidate 1964 nomination Harold E. Stassen, former Governor of Minnesota and candidate for the 1944, 1948, 1952 and 1964 nominations John A. Volpe, Governor of Massachusetts William C. Westmoreland, US Army General and Commander of US Forces in South Vietnam from South Carolina At the 1968 Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida, Reagan and Rockefeller planned to unite their forces in a stop-Nixon movement, but the strategy fell apart when neither man agreed to support the other for the nomination. Nixon won the nomination on the first ballot. Nixon then chose Maryland Governor Spiro Agnew to be his Vice-Presidential candidate, despite complaints from within the GOP that Agnew was an unknown quantity, and that a better-known and more popular candidate, such as Romney, should have been the VicePresidential nominee. It was also reported that Nixon's first choice for running mate was his longtime friend and ally, Robert Finch, who was Lt. Governor of California since 1967 and later his HEW Secretary, but Finch declined the offer. Total popular vote: Ronald Reagan - 1,696,632 (37.93%) Richard Nixon - 1,679,443 (37.54%) James A. Rhodes - 614,492 (13.74%) Nelson A. Rockefeller - 164,340 (3.67%) Unpledged - 140,639 (3.14%) Candidates : Roger D. Branigin, Governor of Indiana John G. Crommelin, retired US Navy Admiral from Alabama Paul C. Fisher, businessman and candidate for the 1960 nomination from Pennsylvania Hubert H. Humphrey, Vice President of the United States and former senator and candidate for the 1952 and 1960 nominations from Minnesota Robert F. Kennedy, U.S. senator from New York and former Attorney General Lyndon B. Johnson, President of the United States from Texas Thomas C. Lynch, Attorney General of California Eugene J. McCarthy, U.S. senator from Minnesota George S. McGovern, U.S. senator from South Dakota Daniel K. Moore, Governor of North Carolina George A. Smathers, U.S. senator and candidate for the 1960 nomination from Florida Stephen M. Young, U.S. senator from Ohio Robert Kennedy's death altered the dynamics of the race, and threw the Democratic Party into disarray. Although Humphrey appeared the presumptive favorite for the nomination, thanks to his support from the traditional power blocs of the party, he was an unpopular choice with many of the anti-war elements within the party, who identified him with Johnson's controversial position on the Vietnam War. However, Kennedy's delegates failed to unite behind a single candidate who could have prevented Humphrey from getting the nomination. Some of Kennedy's support went to McCarthy, but many of Kennedy's delegates, remembering their bitter primary battles with McCarthy, refused to vote for him. Instead, these delegates rallied around the latestarting candidacy of Senator George McGovern of South Dakota, a Kennedy supporter in the spring primaries, and who had presidential ambitions. However, by dividing the antiwar votes at the Democratic Convention, it made it easier for Humphrey to gather the delegates he needed to win the nomination. Total popular vote: Eugene McCarthy - 2,914,933 (38.73%) Robert Kennedy - 2,305,148 (30.63%) Stephen M. Young - 549,140 (7.30%) Lyndon B. Johnson - 383,590 (5.10%) Thomas C. Lynch - 380,286 (5.05%) Roger D. Branigin - 238,700 (3.17%) George Smathers - 236,242 (3.14%) Hubert Humphrey - 166,463 (2.21%) Richard Nixon – Republican Hubert Humphrey – Democratic George Wallace - American Independent Served as a Navy lieutenant commander in the Pacific Member of the United States House of Representatives from California's 12th congressional district Former United States Senator from California 36th Vice President of the United States (under Dwight Eisenhower) 38th vice president of the United States (196569) in the Democratic administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson presidential candidate of the Democratic Party in 1968 A liberal leader in the United States Senate (1949-65: 1971-78) Built his political base on a Democrat-FarmerLabor United States politician who was elected Governor of Alabama as a Democrat four times (1962, 1970, 1974 and 1982) ran for U.S. President four times, running as a Democrat in 1964, 1972, and 1976, and as the American Independent Party candidate in 1968 Best known for his pro-segregation attitudes and as a symbol of state's rights during the American desegregation period, which he modified after the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by arguing that it was better that he be governor while the schools were being desegregated than for someone else to be in authority After the Democratic Convention in late August Humphrey trailed Nixon by doubledigits in most polls, and his chances seemed hopeless. According to Time magazine, "The old Democratic coalition was disintegrating, with untold numbers of blue-collar workers responding to Wallace's blandishments, Negroes threatening to sit out the election, liberals disaffected over the [Vietnam] War, the South lost. The war chest was almost empty, and the party's machinery, neglected by Lyndon Johnson, creaked in disrepair."[1 Calling for "the politics of joy", and using the still-powerful labor unions as his base, Humphrey fought back. He attacked Wallace as a racist bigot who appealed to the darker impulses of Americans. Labor unions also undertook a major effort to win back union members who were supporting Wallace, with substantial success. Polls which showed Wallace winning almost one-half of union members in the summer of 1968 showed a sharp decline in his union support as election day approached. Humphrey also pledged to continue the Great Society welfare programs initiated by President Johnson. While Humphrey ran a fighting, slashing campaign, Nixon's campaign was carefully managed and controlled. Nixon often held "town hall" meetings in cities he visited, where he answered questions from voters who had been carefully screened in advance by his aides. Nixon also implied that he had a "solution" to the war in Vietnam, but was vague in providing the details of his plan. As election day approached and Wallace's support in the North and Midwest began to wane, Humphrey finally began to climb in the polls. In the end, the Vietnam War became the one remaining problem Humphrey could not overcome. In October, Humphrey - who still trailed Nixon in the polls - began to publicly distance himself from the Johnson administration on the Vietnam War, calling for a bombing halt. The key turning point for Humphrey's campaign came when President Johnson officially announced a bombing halt, and even a possible peace deal, the weekend before the election. Tipped off in advance by Henry Kissinger, and fearing this 'October surprise' might cost him the election, Nixon used Anna Chennault as an intermediary to encourage South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu to stay away from the peace talks in the belief that he could expect a better deal under a Nixon Presidency; Thieu obliged. However, the "Halloween Peace" gave Humphrey's campaign a badly needed boost, and by election day the polls were reporting a dead heat. The election on November 5, 1968 proved to be extremely close, and it was not until the following morning that the television news networks were able to call Nixon the winner. The key states proved to be California, Ohio, and Illinois, all of which Nixon won by three percentage points or less. Nixon won the popular vote with a plurality of 512,000 votes, or a victory margin of about one percentage point. In the electoral college Nixon's victory was larger, as he carried 32 states with 301 electoral votes, to Humphrey's 13 states and 191 electoral votes and Wallace's 5 states and 46 electoral votes.