1968 Democratic Party presidential primaries

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1968 Democratic Party presidential primaries

← 1964 March 12 to June 11, 1968 1972 →

2,607 delegates to the 1968 Democratic National Convention
1,304 (majority) votes needed to win
Candidate Hubert Humphrey Eugene McCarthy Robert F. Kennedy
Home state Minnesota Minnesota New York
Contests won 0 6 4
Popular vote 166,463 2,914,933 2,305,148
Percentage 2.2% 38.7% 30.6%

     Kennedy      Humphrey      Johnson      McCarthy      George Smathers      Stephen M. Young

Previous Democratic nominee

Lyndon B. Johnson

Democratic nominee

Hubert Humphrey

From March to July 1968, Democratic Party voters elected delegates to the 1968 Democratic National Convention for the purpose of selecting the party's nominee for President in the upcoming election. After an inconclusive and tumultuous campaign marred by the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, incumbent Vice President Hubert Humphrey was nominated at the 1968 Democratic National Convention held from August 26 to August 29, 1968, in Chicago, Illinois.

The primary season began with incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson expected to win re-nomination for a second consecutive election, despite low approval ratings following the Tet Offensive in January 1968. His only significant challenger was Eugene McCarthy, an anti-war Senator from Minnesota. After McCarthy nearly won the New Hampshire primary, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, another critic of the war and the brother of the late President John F. Kennedy, entered the race. Johnson soon announced that he would not campaign for re-election. In April, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey joined the race as the establishment candidate; he did not criticize the administration's conduct of the war and avoided the popular contests for delegates.

McCarthy and Kennedy traded primary victories while Humphrey collected delegates through the closed caucus and convention systems in place in most states. The race was upended on June 5, the night of the California and South Dakota primaries. Both races went for Kennedy, but he was assassinated after his victory speech at the Ambassador Hotel. At the moment of his assassination, Kennedy trailed Humphrey in the delegate count with McCarthy third. Without any obligation to vote for Kennedy, most delegates backed Humphrey over McCarthy or fell behind Kennedy supporter George McGovern.

At the convention, Humphrey secured the nomination easily despite anti-war protests outside the convention center; he went on to lose the presidential election narrowly to Richard Nixon. Partly in reaction to Humphrey's victory without entering most state primaries, George McGovern led the McGovern-Fraser Commission, dramatically reforming the nomination process to expand the use of primaries.


1960 and 1964 presidential elections[edit]

In 1960, John F. Kennedy won the Democratic nomination over Lyndon B. Johnson. After he secured the nomination at the party convention, Kennedy offered Johnson the vice presidential nomination; the offer was a surprise, and some Kennedy supporters claimed that the nominee expected Johnson to decline. Robert F. Kennedy, the nominee's brother and campaign manager, reportedly went to Johnson's hotel suite to dissuade Johnson from accepting.[1] Johnson accepted, and the Kennedy-Johnson ticket was narrowly elected, but the 1960 campaign intensified the personal enmity between Robert F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, which dated to as early as 1953. President Kennedy named his brother to his cabinet as United States Attorney General.

President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963; Johnson succeeded him with tremendous national popularity amid a wave of mourning and sympathy. Robert Kennedy remained in the cabinet for several months amid what Johnson staffers began to refer to as "the Bobby problem": despite the personal hatred between the two, Democratic voters overwhelmingly favored Kennedy as Johnson's running mate in the 1964 election.[2] Kennedy began to plan for a nationwide campaign,[3] and in the informal New Hampshire vice-presidential primary, Kennedy defeated Hubert H. Humphrey in a landslide.[4] In July 1964, Johnson issued an official statement ruling out any cabinet member for the vice presidency.[5] Instead, Kennedy ran for and won election to the United States Senate from New York. Johnson was elected in a landslide.

Vietnam War[edit]

United States involvement in the Vietnam War began as shortly after the end of World War II. In 1964, President Johnson began to dramatically escalate American military presence after the Gulf of Tonkin incident. General William C. Westmoreland, whom Johnson had appointed to command American troops in Vietnam, expanded U.S. manpower from 16,000 to more than 553,000 by 1969.

As U.S. involvement escalated throughout 1964 to 1966, protests against the war escalated in proportion. Several anti-war groups were founded or expanded during the period.

1966 midterms and "Dump Johnson" movement[edit]

Anti-war Senator Eugene McCarthy agreed to challenge President Johnson in October 1967, after several better-known candidates (including Robert Kennedy) declined to run.

Amid criticism of U.S. handling of the war from both parties, President Johnson's approval rating sank from a high above 70 percent to below 40 percent by the 1966 midterm elections. The Democratic Party had already begun to split between anti-war "doves" and pro-war "hawks," and the Republican Party gained dozens of seats in Congress.

As opposition grew in 1967, anti-war Democrats led by Allard Lowenstein and Curtis Gans formed the Dump Johnson movement, which sought to challenge the President's re-election. Their first choice was Robert Kennedy, who had sufficiently established himself as a critic of the war and an effective popular campaigner. He declined, as did a series of lesser-known candidates, including Senator George McGovern. Lowenstein finally found a candidate in October 1967, when Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy agreed to challenge the President. At first, McCarthy merely expressed his interest, telling Lowenstein, "Somebody has to raise the flag."[6][7] On November 30, 1967, McCarthy publicly announced his campaign for the nomination.

Kennedy continued to demur, despite pressure from his aides to enter the race and worry that anti-war allies, like George McGovern, would begin to make commitments to McCarthy.[8] On January 30, he again indicated to the press that he had no plans to campaign against Johnson.[9]

In early February 1968, after the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, Kennedy received an anguished letter from writer Pete Hamill, noting that poor people in the Watts area of Los Angeles had hung pictures of Kennedy's brother, President John F. Kennedy, in their homes. Hamill's letter reminded Robert Kennedy that he had an "obligation of staying true to whatever it was that put those pictures on those walls."[10] There were other factors that influenced Kennedy's decision to enter the presidential primary race. On February 29, 1968, the Kerner Commission issued a report on the racial unrest that had affected American cities during the previous summer. The Kerner Commission blamed "white racism" for the violence, but its findings were largely dismissed by the Johnson administration.[10]

However, by early March, he had made up his mind to enter the race, albeit too late to contest the upcoming New Hampshire primary.[11] He may have been influenced by the January Tet Offensive, a victorious Northern assault across South Vietnam, and the February 29 report of the Kerner Commission, which blamed "white racism" for the series of race riots in the summer of 1967 but was largely ignored by the Johnson administration.[citation needed]

On March 10, Kennedy told his aide, Peter Edelman, that he had decided to run and had to "figure out how to get McCarthy out of it."[11][12] However, Kennedy hesitated to enter the race with McCarthy still in and agreed to McCarthy's request to delay an announcement of his intentions until after the New Hampshire primary.[11]



Candidate Born Most recent position Home state Campaign

Hubert Humphrey
May 27, 1911
(age 57)
Wallace, South Dakota
Vice President of the United States


Declared: April 27, 1968
Nominated at convention: August 29, 1968


Candidate Born Most recent position Home state Campaign

Lyndon B. Johnson
August 27, 1908
(age 59)
Stonewall, Texas
President of the United States

Declined: March 31, 1968

Robert F. Kennedy
November 20, 1925
(age 42)
Brookline, Massachusetts
U.S. Senator
from New York
New York
New York

Declared: March 16, 1968
Assassinated: June 5, 1968

Eugene McCarthy
March 29, 1916
(age 52)
Watkins, Minnesota
U.S. Senator
from Minnesota


Declared: November 30, 1967
Defeated at convention: August 29, 1968

George McGovern
July 19, 1922
(age 45)
Avon, South Dakota
U.S. Senator
from South Dakota

South Dakota
Announced: July 23, 1968[a]
Defeated at convention: August 29, 1968
  1. ^ McGovern entered the race following Robert Kennedy's assassination.
George McGovernEugene McCarthy 1968 presidential campaignRobert F. Kennedy 1968 presidential campaignHubert Humphrey 1968 presidential campaign

Favorite sons[edit]

The following candidates ran only in their home state or district's primary or caucuses for the purpose of controlling its delegate slate at the convention and did not appear to be considered national candidates by the media.

Declined to run[edit]

The following persons were listed in two or more major national polls or were the subject of media speculation surrounding their potential candidacy, but declined to actively seek the nomination.


Nationwide polling[edit]

Poll source Publication
Hubert Humphrey
Lyndon B. Johnson
Robert F. Kennedy
Eugene McCarthy
Gallup[13] Feb. 1966 5% 52% 27%
Gallup[13] Aug. 1966 6% 38% 40%
Gallup[13] Jan. 1967 8% 34% 43%
Gallup[13] Sep. 1967 6% 37% 39%
Newsweek[13] Jan. 7, 1968 74.3% 16.7%
Theodore H. White[13] Jan. 10, 1968 79% 12%
Newsweek[13] Jan. 21, 1968 73% 18%
U.S. News & World Report[13] Jan. 22, 1968 66.7% 24.3%
Newsweek[13] Jan. 28, 1968 80% 11%
New York Times/CBS[13] Feb. 1, 1968 71% 20%
Theodore H. White[13] Feb. 10, 1968 73% 18%
Newsweek[13] Feb. 25, 1968 76.7% 14.3%
U.S. News & World Report[13] Feb. 26, 1968 76.2% 14.8%
New York Times/CBS[13] Feb. 29, 1968 77% 14%
Newsweek[13] Mar. 3, 1968 69% 20%
U.S. News & World Report[13] Mar. 5, 1968 65% 30%
Theodore H. White[13] Mar. 10, 1968 65.5% 26.5%
March 12: New Hampshire primary
March 16: Robert F. Kennedy enters the race
New York Times/CBS[13] Mar. 21, 1968 50% 41%
U.S. News & World Report[13] Mar. 24, 1968 39% 52%
March 31: Johnson withdraws
New York Times/CBS[13] Apr. 4, 1968 12% 79%
Gallup[13] Apr. 9, 1968 31% 35% 23%
Gallup[13] Apr. 23, 1968 25% 28% 33%
Gallup[13] May 7, 1968 40% 31% 19%
June 5: Robert F. Kennedy is assassinated
Gallup[13] July 23, 1968 53% 39%


March: New Hampshire, Kennedy enters, Johnson declines[edit]

Running as an antiwar 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 "Get Clean for Gene."

On March 12, McCarthy was the only person on the ballot, as Johnson had not filed, and was only a write in candidate. McCarthy won 42% of the primary vote to Johnson's 50%, an extremely strong showing for such a challenger which gave McCarthy's campaign legitimacy and momentum.[14] In addition, McCarthy's superior coordination led to a near sweep of the state's twenty-four pledged delegates; since Johnson had no formal campaign organization in the state, a number of competing pro-Johnson delegate candidates split his vote, allowing McCarthy to take twenty delegates.

Despite his desire to oppose Johnson directly and the fear that McCarthy would split the anti-war vote, Kennedy pushed forward with his planned campaign. On March 16, Kennedy declared, "I am today announcing my candidacy for the presidency of the United States. I do not run for the presidency merely to oppose any man, but to propose new policies. I run because I am convinced that this country is on a perilous course and because I have such strong feelings about what must be done, and I feel that I'm obliged to do all I can."[15]

President Lyndon B. Johnson delivers a speech announcing he will not run for re-election on March 31.

Johnson now had two strong challengers, sitting members of the Senate with demonstrated popularity. To make matters worse, polling in Wisconsin showed McCarthy beating Johnson badly, with the latter getting only 12% of the vote.[16] Facing declining health and bleak political forecasts in the upcoming primaries,[17] 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 on Vietnam, he shocked the nation by announcing that he would not seek re-election. By withdrawing, 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, which would give Humphrey the boost he would need to win.[18][19][20]

April: McCarthy triumphant, Humphrey enters[edit]

After Johnson's withdrawal, the Wisconsin primary on April 2 was effectively uncontested. McCarthy won 56–35%. Kennedy received 6%. Pennsylvania on April 23 was similarly a rout for McCarthy, who took 71% of the vote.

With Johnson's withdrawal, the New Deal Coalition effectively dissolved.[citation needed]

After Johnson's withdrawal, Vice President Hubert Humphrey announced his candidacy on April 27.[21] Humphrey's campaign concentrated on winning the delegates in non-primary states, where party leaders controlled the delegate votes. Humphrey did not compete in the primaries, leaving favorite sons to win delegates as surrogates, notably United States Senator George A. Smathers from Florida, United States Senator Stephen M. Young from Ohio, and Governor Roger D. Branigin of Indiana.

The three candidates faced each other for the first time in Massachusetts (Kennedy's native state). However, neither Humphrey nor Kennedy were formally listed on the ballot. As a result, McCarthy won the popular vote easily, and by the rules in place at the time, all 72 of the commonwealth's delegates were pledged to him on the first ballot. Some analysts viewed Humphrey's unexpectedly strong showing (44,156 write-in votes, or 18% of the total) as a clear victory of Kennedy who polled a meager 28% write-in vote in his family's home state.[22]

May: Kennedy momentum, McCarthy in Oregon[edit]

On March 27, 1968, Kennedy announced his intention to run against McCarthy in the Indiana primary, although aides told him that a race in Indiana would be extremely tight and advised him against it.[23] Despite their concerns, Kennedy traveled to Indianapolis the following day and filed to run in the Indiana primary. At the Indiana Statehouse, Kennedy told a cheering crowd that the state was important to his campaign: "If we can win in Indiana, we can win in every other state, and win when we go to the convention in August."[24] The Indiana primary thus marked the first open entry of Kennedy into the field and pitted him against McCarthy and Governor Roger Branigin, a favorite son who had backed Johnson and now impliedly supported Humphrey.

During his first campaign stop in Indiana, Kennedy delivered two of a trio notable speeches. First, on April 4, he spoke at Ball State University in Muncie. In this speech, Kennedy suggested the election would "determine the direction that the United States is going to move" and that the American people should "examine everything. Not take anything for granted. Kennedy expressed concerns about poverty and hunger, lawlessness and violence, jobs and economic development, and foreign policy. He emphasized that Americans had a "moral obligation" and should "make an honest effort to understand one another and move forward together." After leaving the stage at Ball State, Kennedy boarded a plane for Indianapolis. When he arrived, he was informed of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr..[25] Addressing a crowd gathered for a political rally on the black north side of the city, Kennedy made a brief extemporanous speech on the assassination to the crowd, calling for peace and compassion.[26] The next day in Cleveland, he delivered prepared remarks entitled "On the Mindless Menace of Violence," elaborating the themes he had addressed in Indianapolis. After attending King's funeral in Atlanta, Georgia, Kennedy resumed campaigning in Indiana on April 10.[27]

Branigan campaigned in nearly all of the state's 92 counties, while McCarthy's campaign strategy concentrated on Indiana's rural areas and small towns. According to Kennedy's campaign advisor, John Bartlow Martin, the campaign gained momentum with Kennedy's visits to central and southern Indiana on April 22 and 23, which included a memorable whistle-stop railroad trip aboard the Wabash Cannonball.[28] Martin urged the candidate to speak out against violence and rioting, emphasize his "law enforcement experience" as former U.S. Attorney General, and promote coordination between the government and private sector to solve domestic issues. Kennedy continued to speak out against the war and in support of the cessation of hostilities and reallocating war funds to domestic programs.[29] To appeal to conservative voters, Kennedy "toned down his rhetoric" as well.[30] He delivered a speech before the Indianapolis real estate board on May 2 advocating for reliance on private enterprise instead of the federal government and arguing that the national economy would be "restored" by the Vietnam War's conclusion.[citation needed] McCarthy, meanwhile, contrasted his approach to conflict of "call[ing] upon everyone ... to be as fully responsible as [they] can be" against Humphrey's ("run[ning] things together indiscriminately") and Kennedy's (a "combination of separate interests ... or groups").[31]

On May 7, Kennedy won with 42 percent of the vote; Branigan was second with 31 percent of the vote; and McCarthy, earning 27 percent, came in third.[32][33] With this victory in Indiana, Kennedy's campaign gained momentum entering the Nebraska primary.[citation needed] In response to the defeat, McCarthy remarked, "We've tested the enemy now, and we know his techniques ... we know his weaknesses."[34]

Campaigning vigorously in Nebraska, Kennedy hoped for a major win to give him momentum going into the crucial California primary. While McCarthy made only one visit to Nebraska, Kennedy made numerous appearances.[35] Though Kennedy's advisors had been worried about his chances in Nebraska, given his lack of credibility on ranching and agriculture policy and the short amount of time to campaign in the state after the Indiana primary,[36] Kennedy won on May 14 with 51.4 percent of the vote to McCarthy's 31 percent.[35][37] Kennedy won 24 of the 25 counties that he visited ahead of the vote; of those, the sole county he lost by two votes was home to the University of Nebraska, where a plurality of students favored McCarthy.[38] Kennedy declared that the results, where two anti-war candidates collectively earned over 80 percent of the vote, were "a smashing repudiation" of the Johnson-Humphrey administration.[39]

In contrast to Nebraska, the Oregon primary was an uphill battle for Kennedy, and McCarthy ultimately triumphed.

In Oregon, the Kennedy campaign circulated material on McCarthy's record; McCarthy had voted against a minimum wage law and repeal of the poll tax in the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The McCarthy campaign responded with charges that Kennedy illegally taped Martin Luther King, Jr. as United States Attorney General.[40] Ten days ahead of the vote, Kennedy admitted his message did not appeal well to Oregonians: "This state is like one giant suburb. I appeal best to people who have problems."[41] During a speech he gave in California, Kennedy also admitted, "I think that if I get beaten in any primary, I am not a very viable candidate," further raising the stakes in Oregon.[40] Following that comment, Kennedy campaigned for sixteen hours a day; in the weeks before the election, his campaign canvased 50,000 homes.[citation needed]

On May 28, McCarthy won the Oregon primary with 44.7 percent; Kennedy received 38.8 percent of votes.[42] After Kennedy's loss was confirmed, he sent a terse congratulatory message to McCarthy but asserted that he would remain in the race.[43] According to Kennedy biographer Larry Tye, the defeat in Oregon proved to Kennedy that he needed to take risks and convinced voters that Kennedy was vulnerable to electoral defeat.[41][44] Observers remarked that McCarthy was "back in the race as a real contender."[45]

Meanwhile, in Florida, a slate of Humphrey delegates led by favorite son George A. Smathers easily swept aside McCarthy, who managed only four delegates from two Miami congressional districts.[citation needed]

June 5: California, South Dakota, and New Jersey; Kennedy assassinated[edit]

Kennedy campaigning in Los Angeles (photo courtesy of John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum, Boston)

Kennedy began campaigning in California before the Oregon primary; after his loss in Oregon, California's winner-take-all primary became crucial to both his and McCarthy's campaigns. In South Dakota, he also hoped to simultaneously pull off an upset victory over McCarthy and Humphrey, both from neighboring Minnesota.[a]

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.

On June 1, Kennedy and McCarthy met in a televised debate, which observers generally considered a draw. Though Kennedy considered the debate "indecisive and disappointing," subsequent polling showed that undecided voters favored his performance by a margin of two-to-one.[46] On June 3, Kennedy made a final swing through the state's major urban centers, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego, along with suburban Long Beach, in a single day.

On primary day, Kennedy privately expressed his hope to Theodore H. White that victories in California and South Dakota could persuade party insiders that he was more electable than Humphrey and thus win him crucial support from unpledged delegates. As the results came in, it was clear that Kennedy had achieved his goal with popular victories in the two states. McCarthy, who won the popular vote in New Jersey, made it clear that he would contest the upcoming New York primary in Kennedy's adopted state.

Kennedy assassination[edit]

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

At the moment of Kennedy's death, the delegate totals were estimated to be:[citation needed]

Robert Kennedy's death threw the Democratic Party into disarray. While a large portion of his popular support transferred to McCarthy, his delegates, many of whom were party insiders obligated to Kennedy only by law, largely transferred to Humphrey.[citation needed] Even many of Kennedy's anti-war 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. The struggle for Kennedy's delegates would remain a feature of the campaign through its final months, up to the convention vote itself, but Kennedy's assassination made Humphrey the prohibitive favorite for the nomination from that point forward.

Schedule and results[edit]

Statewide results by winner[edit]

(daily totals)
pledged delegates
Contest Delegates won and popular vote
Eugene McCarthy Robert F. Kennedy Hubert Humphrey Lyndon B. Johnson Other Uncommitted
March 12 24 New Hampshire primary[47][48][49] 20


March 24 6 Kansas's 1st district convention[50] 6
March 28 28 South Carolina[51][52] 28[b]
March 30 32 Kansas state convention[53] 32[c]
April 2 60 Wisconsin primary[54][55] 52
412,160 (56.23%)

46,507 (6.34%)

3,605 (0.49%)
253,696 (34.61%)

17,034 (2.32%)[d]
April 8 22 Alaska convention[56] 22[e]
April 10 3 New York's 28th district convention[57][f]
19 (7.85%)

101 (41.74%)
122 (50.41%)
April 20 19 Arizona convention[58] 1[h] 2[h] 12[h] 4
April 23 0 Pennsylvania primary (71%) (11%) (9%) (4%) (5%)
April 29 49 Maryland convention[59][60] 49
April 30 72 Massachusetts primary[61] 72
122,697 (49.30%)

68,604 (27.56%)

44,156 (17.74%)

6,890 (2.77%)

6,556 (2.63%)[i]
May 7
63[j] Indiana primary[62]
115 Ohio primary[63] 3 112
549,140 (100.00%)
23 Washington D.C. primary[64] 23


May 11 22 Delaware convention[65] 6 16
May 12 26 Hawaii convention[66] 26
28 Wyoming convention[67] 25[m] 3[m]
May 14 22 Nebraska primary 2



36[n] West Virginia primary[68][69] 2[n]
May 16 43 Georgia convention[70] 43
May 18 27 Maine convention[71] 27
May 25
6 Colorado's 1st district convention[72] [o] [o]
46 Iowa convention[73] 5 25 9.5 6.5
22 Vermont convention[74][75] 5
270 (27.08%)
327 (32.80%)
400 (40.12%)
May 28
63 Florida primary[76][77] 4
35 Oregon primary 35




June 1 60 Missouri convention[78] 3[r] 57[r]
June 2 96 Michigan convention[79] 96[s]
June 4
172 California primary

80 New Jersey primary[80][81][82] 20


24 South Dakota primary

June 6 59 North Carolina convention[83] 59[w]
June 11 118 Illinois primary[84][85] 2



June 13 5 Panama Canal Zone[86] 5[x]
June 15 26 Montana convention 2 24
June 18 123 New York primary[87][88][89] 67[y] 50[y] 6[y]
June 22 44 Connecticut convention[90][91] [z] [z] 44[z]
14 Minnesota convention[92]
484 (43.25%)
635 (56.75%)
June 25 67 New York convention[93] 15.5 49.5
July 6 6 Colorado's 6th district convention[94] 2 1 3
Estimated total pledged delegates 310.5 392 239.5 13 351 383
  1. ^ Humphrey had been raised in South Dakota, as well.
  2. ^ The South Carolina delegates were pledged to Governor Robert Evander McNair, who was expected to act as a favorite son at the convention.
  3. ^ The Kansas delegation was led by Governor Robert Docking, a friend and political ally of the Kennedy family. The failure to commit the delegation the President Johnson was seen as a victory for the Kennedy campaign.
  4. ^ 11,861 vots for "none of the names shown," 4,031 write-in votes for George Wallace, and 1,142 write-in votes for others.
  5. ^ It was reported that a majority of the delegation favored Hubert Humphrey.
  6. ^ The vote totals shown are the number of district convention delegates voting for the delegate with the highest number of votes on each candidate's slate.
  7. ^ Representative Joseph Resnick won three pledged delegates a district convention to serve as a favorite son.
  8. ^ a b c All of Arizona's delegates were formally uncommitted; these estimates are based of public impressions of the delegates' positions.
  9. ^ 2,275 votes for Nelson Rockefeller, 1,688 votes for George Wallace, 575 votes for Richard Nixon, and 2,018 scattering votes.
  10. ^ At the time of the Indiana primary, the state party had not yet announced how it would apportion its delegation on the first ballot; thus, delegate totals were not conclusive until the state convention.[62]
  11. ^ The third candidate in the Indiana race was favorite son, Governor Roger Branigin.
  12. ^ All of the vote went to Stephen M. Young, who was unopposed.
  13. ^ a b The Wyoming delegates were formally uncommitted, but twenty-five at a minimum were understood to publicly support Humphrey.
  14. ^ a b c d e The West Virginia delegates made public, non-binding pledges to support a candidate; of those elected, it is confirmed that nine supported Humphrey, five were publicly uncommitted, two supported Kennedy, and one supported Johnson.
  15. ^ a b In the first district of Colorado, a delegate slate consisting of Kennedy and McCarthy delegates won the convention, but their exact apportionment was not reported.
  16. ^ Senator George Smathers led a delegate slate that publicly supported Humphrey.
  17. ^ State Senator Scott Kelly of Lakeland led an uncommitted slate that said it would support either Robert Kennedy or George Wallace.
  18. ^ a b A poll of the Missouri delegation immediately after their election found 57 for Humphrey and 3 for McCarthy, though they were formally uncommitted.
  19. ^ Claims were contested over who the Michigan delegation supported at the time of their election.
  20. ^ An uncommitted delegate slate generally understood to favor Humphrey was led by Attorney General Thomas C. Lynch.
  21. ^ The New Jersey delegation was formally pledged to Governor Richard J. Hughes, who was widely expected to back Humphrey but not permitted to formally do so.
  22. ^ Although nominally pledged to President Johnson, the Johnson delegate slate publicly stated that they would support Humphrey if elected.
  23. ^ The North Carolina delegates were committed to Governor Dan Moore on the first ballot but expected to support Humphrey thereafter.
  24. ^ While all of the delegates from the Panama Canal Zone publicly supported Humphrey, they requested to be formally uncommitted to maximize their bargaining power in the event of a contested first ballot.
  25. ^ a b c New York did not use a presidential preference primary, but elected all delegates directly by popular vote at the district level, with three delegates elected from each congressional district. Kennedy delegates were formally pledged to the candidate before his assassination.
  26. ^ a b c Though the McCarthy campaign won a substantial minority of state convention delegates by virtue of their victories at local primaries throughout the spring, McCarthy delegates to the Connecticut convention bolted when the majority at the convention refused to allot national delegates in proportion to their representation, leading to the election of a completely uncommitted slate.

Total popular vote:[95]

Johnson/Humphrey surrogates:

Minor candidates and write-ins:

Primary Map By County (Massachusetts not Included) Hubert Humphrey – Red Lyndon B. Johnson – Yellow (outside of Florida) Robert F. Kennedy – Purple Eugene McCarthy – Green George Wallace – Lime Green Roger D. Branigin – Orange George Smathers – Yellow (Florida Only) Stephen Young – Brown

Democratic Convention and antiwar protests[edit]

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 covered on live television, Americans were shocked to see Chicago Police officers brutally beating antiwar 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, Humphrey was watching the proceedings on television. Meanwhile, the convention itself was marred by the strong-armed tactics of Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley, who was seen on television angrily cursing Connecticut Senator Abraham Ribicoff, who had 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 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, pp. 377-378;[96])

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[97] 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[98]


Hubert Humphrey

Robert F. Kennedy

Eugene McCarthy

George McGovern (during convention)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nash, Knowlton (1984). History on the Run: The Trenchcoat Memoirs of a Foreign Correspondent. Toronto, Canada: McClelland & Stewart. pp. 103–104. ISBN 0-7710-6700-3.
  2. ^ Donaldson, Gary (2003). Liberalism's Last Hurrah: The Presidential Campaign of 1964. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe. p. 103. ISBN 0-7656-1119-8.
  3. ^ Bohrer, John R. (May 24, 2017). "Robert Kennedy's Secret Campaign to Become Lyndon Johnson's Vice President". Daily Beast. Retrieved December 26, 2022.
  4. ^ Donaldson, Gary (2003). Liberalism's Last Hurrah: The Presidential Campaign of 1964. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe. ISBN 0-7656-1119-8.
  5. ^ Sabato, Larry J. (2014). The Kennedy Half-Century: The Presidency, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy. Bloomsbury USA. pp. 269–271. ISBN 978-1620402825.
  6. ^ Gould, Lewis L. 1968: The Election That Changed America (Chicago 1993), pp. 20–21.
  7. ^ Sandbrook, Dominic (2007-12-18). Eugene McCarthy: The Rise and Fall of Postwar American Liberalism. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. p. 188. ISBN 978-0-307-42577-5.
  8. ^ Thomas 2000, p. 351.
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Further reading[edit]