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Distribution of votes in the 1964 US presidential election

The 1964 United States presidential election was contested by incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson of the Democratic Party, and Barry M. Goldwater of the Republican Party. This was the first election to be contested in all fifty states and Washington DC, and it took place on November 3, 1964, less than one year after Johnson ascended to the presidency following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Johnson won the Democratic nomination quite easily, while Goldwater, a self-proclaimed conservative "extremist" defeated Nelson Rockefeller in a symbolic loss for the more moderate wing of the Republican Party. This marked the beginning of transitional period in US politics, where the Republican Party gradually became the de facto party of conservatism by 1980, and the Deep South became the Republican stronghold it is today. This was the only Republican ticket between 1948 and 1976 not to feature Richard Nixon.

Campaign

The civil rights movement was the prevalent issue in the election, and Johnson's progressive policies and pro-civil rights campaign compared with Goldwater's opposition of the civil rights movement and hardline conservative approach presented voters with two of the most converse candidates in US election history. Although Goldwater had come from behind to win the Republican nomination, he had pushed away many moderate Republicans along the way with his controversial and often harsh rhetoric. The Johnson campaign painted Goldwater as a right-wing extremist, while many prominent Republicans (including former President Eisenhower) refused to endorse Goldwater, with some even campaigning for Johnson. The Johnson campaign also made ads targeting Goldwater's willingness to use nuclear weapons in Vietnam, and used parodies of Goldwater's own slogans against him. Throughout the campaign Johnson led in all polls by significant margins, and as election day drew nearer his campaign's focus was on getting people to actually go out and vote, as they feared that many voters would stay at home as they believed their votes were not necessary for a Johnson win.

Results

President Johnson won re-election with the largest popular vote margin in any election that included all states and Washington DC (as of 2016). Johnson won 61 percent of the popular vote, carrying 44 states (and Washington DC) which returned him over 90 percent of the electoral votes. In contrast, Goldwater won just his home state of Arizona, and five states in the Deep South, further solidifying the South's transition from blue to red. In history, Johnson is remembered as an effective leader who accomplished much in his five years in office, particularly in the civil rights movement, although his escalation of the Vietnam War has been a black mark on his legacy.

Share of electoral college* and popular votes** in the 45th US presidential election in 1964

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Source

Release date

2011

Region

United States

Survey time period

1964

Supplementary notes

*Actual number of electoral votes:
Lyndon B. Johnson - 486
Barry M. Goldwater - 52

**Actual number of popular votes:
Lyndon B. Johnson - 43,129,566
Barry M. Goldwater - 27,178,188

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