1972 Democratic Party presidential primaries

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1972 Democratic Party presidential primaries

← 1968 January 24 to June 20, 1972 1976 →
  George McGovern bioguide.jpg Hubert Humphrey crop.jpg Wallacenasa-drop.gif
Candidate George McGovern Hubert Humphrey George Wallace
Home state South Dakota Minnesota Alabama
Contests won 21 5 10
Popular vote 4,053,451 4,121,372 3,755,424
Percentage 25.3% 25.8% 23.5%

  Edmund Muskie.jpg Shirley Chisholm.jpg
Candidate Edmund Muskie Shirley Chisholm
Home state Maine New York
Contests won 5 3
Popular vote 1,840,217 430,703
Percentage 11.5% 2.69%

United States Democratic presidential primaries, 1972 by state.svg
1972 primary results by state (popular vote, not necessarily delegates)
Red denotes a state won by George McGovern. Blue denotes a state won by Hubert Humphrey Green denotes a state won by George Wallace. Brown denotes a state won by Edmund Muskie. Gold denotes a state won by Shirley Chisholm.

Previous Democratic nominee

Hubert Humphrey

Democratic nominee

George McGovern

The 1972 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 1972 U.S. presidential election. Senator George McGovern of South Dakota was selected as the nominee through a series of primary elections, caucuses, and state party conventions, culminating in the 1972 Democratic National Convention held from July 10 to July 13, 1972, in Miami, Florida.

Major candidates[edit]

As 1972 approached, President Richard Nixon faced uncertain re-election prospects. Nixon had been elected in 1968 on a platform to end American involvement in Vietnam, but his strategy of gradually handing over operational control of the conflict to the South Vietnamese military (Vietnamization) was proceeding more slowly than planned. Nixon had in fact widened the conflict by invading Cambodia in 1970, a move that ignited criticism in the press and Congress and widespread disorder on college campuses. The Paris Peace Talks had bogged down, dimming hopes for a negotiated settlement to the war. On the domestic front, a sharp recession in 1969 had shaken investor confidence and Nixon's plan to control inflation with wage and price controls had failed to meet its objective. The administration's attempt to steer a middle course on issues of busing and affirmative action had displeased liberals and conservatives alike. Republican losses in the 1970 midterm elections further weakened the party's congressional and gubernatorial position.

As a result, a large field of Democratic challengers emerged. The establishment favorite for the Democratic nomination was Ed Muskie,[1] the moderate who acquitted himself well as the 1968 Democratic vice-presidential candidate. In August 1971 Harris polling amid a growing economic crisis, Muskie came out on top of incumbent Nixon if the election had been held that day.[1]

Shirley Chisholm announced she would run and became the first black person ever to run for president on a major party ticket and the first woman to run for the Democratic presidential nomination.[2]

But then prior to the New Hampshire primary, the "Canuck Letter" was published in the Manchester Union-Leader. The letter, later revealed to have been a forgery produced as part of the "dirty tricks" campaign by Richard Nixon's staff members,[3] claimed that Muskie had made disparaging remarks about French-Canadians. Subsequently, the paper published an attack on the character of Muskie's wife Jane, reporting that she drank and used off-color language. Muskie made an emotional defense of his wife in a speech outside the newspaper's offices during a snowstorm. Though Muskie later stated that what had appeared to the press as tears were actually melted snowflakes, the press reported that Muskie broke down and cried.[4] Muskie did worse than expected in the primary, while McGovern came in a surprisingly close second. McGovern now had the momentum, which was well orchestrated by his campaign manager, Gary Hart.

Alabama governor George Wallace, with his "outsider" image, did well in the South (he won every county in the Florida primary with the exception of Miami-Dade)[5] and among alienated and dissatisfied voters. What might have become a forceful campaign was cut short when Wallace was shot while campaigning, and left paralyzed in an assassination attempt by Arthur Bremer. The Nixon campaign attempted to plant McGovern campaign literature in Bremer's apartment as a means to drive Wallace supporters away from the Democratic Party and towards the Republicans. Wallace did win the Maryland primary and the Michigan primary both held the following day (Tues. May 16), but his near assassination effectively ended his campaign.

Hubert Humphrey made another run at the nomination, in an era when previous nominees were considered legitimate contenders even after losing a general election (Adlai Stevenson had been successful at being re-nominated by Democrats in 1956, and Nixon by the GOP in 1968). He fell just short in delegates, despite winning the popular vote, and his bid to contest the results of the California winner-take-all primary failed. Humphrey, like Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson, was considered the favorite of the party establishment after Muskie's withdrawal.

In the end, McGovern succeeded in winning the nomination by winning primaries through grass-roots support in spite of establishment opposition. He had led a commission to redesign the Democratic nomination system after the messy and confused nomination struggle and convention of 1968. The fundamental principle of the McGovern-Fraser Commission—that the Democratic primaries should determine the winner of the Democratic nomination—lasted throughout every subsequent nomination contest. However, the new rules angered many prominent Democrats whose influence was marginalized, and those politicians refused to support McGovern's campaign (some even supporting Nixon instead), leaving the McGovern campaign at a significant disadvantage in funding compared to Nixon.

Lesser candidates in primaries[edit]

Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Wilbur Mills was drafted by friends and fellow Congressmen to make himself available as a candidate for the primaries. To position himself to appeal to senior citizens during the 1972 presidential campaign, Mills championed the automatic Cost Of Living Adjustment (COLA) to Social Security. He was not strong in the primaries and won 33 votes for president from the delegates at the 1972 Democratic National Convention which nominated Senator George McGovern.

Washington Senator Scoop Jackson was little known nationally when he first ran for President in 1972. McGovern accused Jackson of racism for his opposition to busing. Jackson's high point in the campaign was a distant third in the early Florida primary, but he failed to stand out of the pack of better-known rivals, and only made real news later in the campaign as part of the "Anybody but McGovern" coalition, that raised what would be known as the "Acid, Amnesty and Abortion" questions about McGovern. Jackson suspended active campaigning in May after a weak showing in the Ohio primary and after finishing well behind McGovern, Muskie, George Wallace, and Hubert Humphrey in early primaries. Jackson did re-emerge at the August Democratic convention after runner-up Humphrey dropped out of the race. Jackson's name was placed in nomination by Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter, and he finished second in the delegate roll call, well behind nominee McGovern.[6][7]

Endorsements[edit]

Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan ran as Chisholm delegates in New York.[2] By the 1972 election, the women's movement was rapidly expanding its political power. Steinem, along with Congresswomen Chisholm and Bella Abzug, had founded the National Women's Political Caucus in July 1971.[8]

Nevertheless, Steinem was reluctant to re-join the McGovern campaign. Though she had brought in McGovern's single largest campaign contributor in 1968, she "still had been treated like a frivolous pariah by much of McGovern's campaign staff." And in April 1972, Steinem remarked that he "still doesn't understand the women's movement."[9]

Earlier in the primary campaign, Muskie had gained the support of Ohio Governor John Gilligan; Pennsylvania Governor Milton Shapp; Iowa Senator Harold Hughes and United Auto Workers president Leonard Woodcock.[10]

Assassination attempt against Wallace[edit]

While campaigning in Laurel, Maryland, on May 15, 1972, Wallace was shot five times by Arthur Bremer. Three others wounded in the shooting also survived. Bremer's diary, published after his arrest as a book titled An Assassin's Diary, showed that Bremer's assassination attempt was not motivated by politics, but by a desire for fame, and that President Nixon had been a possible target. The assassination attempt left Wallace paralyzed for the rest of his life, as one of the bullets had lodged in his spinal column.

Following the shooting, Wallace won primaries in Maryland and Michigan. Wallace spoke at the Democratic National Convention from his wheelchair in Miami on July 11, 1972.

While Wallace was recovering in Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Maryland, he was out of Alabama for more than 20 days. The Alabama state constitution required the lieutenant governor, Jere Beasley, to serve as acting governor from June 5 until Wallace's return to Alabama on July 7.

Bremer was sentenced to 53 years in prison for the shooting. He served 35 years of the sentence and was released on parole on November 9, 2007.

As a result of the shooting, President Nixon dispatched Secret Service protection to Representatives Shirley Chisholm and Wilbur Mills (two candidates who had not been assigned Secret Service details up to then) as well as Senator Ted Kennedy (though not running, because of his brothers John and Robert having been assassinated).[11]

Candidates[12][edit]

Nominee[edit]

Candidate Most recent position Home state Campaign Popular vote Contests won
George McGovern U.S. Senator
from South Dakota
(1963–1981)
Flag-map of South Dakota.svg
South Dakota

Announced campaign:
January 18, 1971
Nominated at convention:
July 13, 1972
4,053,451
(25.34%)
21
AK, CA, CO, CT, GA, ID, KS, MA, MT, ND, NE, NV, NM, NY, OR, RI, SD, UT, VA, VT, WI

Eliminated at convention[edit]

Candidate Most recent position Home state Campaign Popular vote Contests won
Hubert Humphrey Vice President of the United States
(1965–1969)

U.S. Senator from Minnesota
(1949–1964; 1971–1978)
Flag map of Minnesota.svg
Minnesota

Announced campaign:

January 10, 1972
4,121,372
(25.77%)
5
IN, MN, OH, PA, WV
George Wallace Governor of Alabama
(1961–1967; 1971–1979)
AlabamaAlabama
Announced campaign:
January 13, 1972
3,755,424
(23.48%)
8-(10)
FL, NC, MD, MI, TN, AL, SC, TX
MS(split) LA(split)
Shirley Chisholm U.S. Representative
from New York's 12th congressional district
(1969–1983)
Flag-map of New York.svg
New York

Announced campaign:
January 25, 1972
430,703
(2.69%)
1-(3)
NJ
MS(split) LA(split)
Terry Sanford Former Governor of North Carolina
(1961–1965)
Flag-map of North Carolina.svg
North Carolina

Announced campaign:
March 8, 1972
331,415
(2.07%)
None
Sam Yorty Mayor of Los Angeles
(1961–1973)
Flag-map of California.svg
California

Announced campaign:
January 13, 1972
79,446
(0.50%)
None
Wilbur Mills U.S. Representative for Arkansas's 2nd congressional district
(1939–1977)
Flag-map of Arkansas.svg
Arkansas

Announced campaign:
February 8, 1972
37,401
(0.23%)
1
AR

Withdrew during primaries[edit]

Candidate Most recent position Home state Campaign Popular vote Contests won
Edmund Muskie U.S. Senator from Maine
(1959–1980)
Flag-map of Maine.svg
Maine

Announced campaign: January 4, 1972

Withdrew: April 28, 1972
1,840,217
(11.51%)
5
AZ, IL, IA, NH, ME
Eugene McCarthy Former U.S. Senator from Minnesota
(1959–1971)
Flag map of Minnesota.svg
Minnesota

Withdrew: May 22, 1972

(Endorsed McGovern)
553,990
(3.46%)
None
Scoop Jackson U.S. Senator from Washington
(1953–1983)
Flag map of Washington.svg
Washington

Announced campaign: November 19, 1971
Withdrew: May 2, 1972
505,198
(3.16%)
7
WA, HI, WY, OK, MO, KY, DE
John Lindsay Mayor of New York City
(1966–1973)
Flag-map of New York.svg
New York

Withdrew: April 5, 1972
196,406
(1.23%)
None
Vance Hartke U.S. Senator from Indiana
(1959–1977)
Flag map of Indiana.svg
Indiana

Withdrew: March 26, 1972
11,798
(0.07%)
None
Patsy Mink U.S. Representative from Hawaii
(1965–1977)
Flag-map of Hawaii.svg
Hawaii
Withdrew: May 24, 1972 8,286
(0.05%)
None

Withdrew before primaries[edit]

Candidate Most recent position Home state Campaign
Fred Harris U.S. Senator from Oklahoma
(1964–1973)
Flag-map of Oklahoma.svg
Oklahoma

Announced campaign: September 24, 1971
Withdrew: November 10, 1971

Favorite son[edit]

Additionally, Walter Fauntroy, Delegate to the United States House of Representatives from the District of Columbia, ran only in the District of Columbia primary for the purpose of controlling its delegate slate at the convention.

Caucuses[13][edit]

The Iowa caucus was held first on January 24. Edmund Muskie won 35.5% support, George McGovern 22.6% and 35.8% of delegates were uncommitted.

11 states held caucuses before the 1972 convention in which one candidate captured a majority of support:

  • January 29: Arizona - Edmund Muskie
  • February 22: Minnesota - Hubert Humphrey
  • March 7: Washington - Henry "Scoop" Jackson
  • March 25: Maine - Edmund Muskie
  • April 17: Idaho - George McGovern
  • April 20: Vermont - George McGovern
  • April 30: Nevada - George McGovern
  • May 15: Colorado - George McGovern
  • May 16: Utah - George McGovern
  • June 18: Montana - George McGovern
  • June 19: Arkansas - Wilbur Mills

Primaries[edit]

Statewide contests by winner[edit]

[13]

Legend:   1st place
(popular vote)
2nd place
(popular vote)
3rd place
(popular vote)
Candidate has
withdrawn or ended
active campaigning
Candidate had
not yet Joined
Hubert
Humphrey
George
McGovern
George
Wallace
Edmund
Muskie
Eugene
McCarthy
Scoop
Jackson
Shirley
Chisholm
Terry
Sanford
John
Lindsay
Sam
Yorty
Wilbur
Mills
Walter
Fauntroy
Vance
Hartke
Patsy
Mink
Unpledged
March 7 New Hampshire
(20 delegates)
0.39% 37.15%
(6 delegates)
0.20% 46.41%
(14 delegates)
- 0.22% - - - 6.08% 4.01% - 2.72% - -
March 14 Florida
(81 delegates)
18.56%
(6 delegates)
6.19% 41.65%
(75 delegates)
8.90% 0.46% 13.46% 3.48% - 6.52% 0.20% 0.36% - 0.24% - -
March 21 Illinois
(153 delegates)
0.12% 0.30%
(13 delegates)
0.57% 62.60%
(59 delegates)
36.26% 0.04% 0.06% - 0.01% - - - - - -
(88-Delegates)
April 4 Wisconsin
(67-Delegates)
20.71%
(13 delegates)
29.55%
(54 delegates)
22.03% 10.26% 1.38% 7.80% 0.82% - 6.70% 0.21% 0.08% - 0.07% 0.11% 0.22%
April 25 Massachusetts
(102-Delegates)
7.91% 52.65%
(102-Delegates)
7.41% 21.29% 1.41% 1.37% 3.62% - 0.34% 0.10% 3.14% - 0.14% - -
April 25 Pennsylvania
(137-Delegates)
35.05%
(57-Delegates)
20.43%
(37-Delegates)
21.27%
(2-Delegates)
20.36%
(29-Delegates)
- 2.82% 0.02% - - - - - - - -
May 2 Washington, D.C.
(15-Delegates)
- - - - - - - - - - - 71.78%
(15-Delegates)
- - 28.22%
May 2 Indiana
(76-Delegates)
47.14%
(55-Delegates)
- 41.19%
(22-Delegates)
11.67% - - - - - - - - - - -
May 2 Ohio
(140-Delegates)
41.28%
(75-Delegates)
39.70%
(65-Delegates)
- 8.79% 2.11% 8.12% - - - - - - - - -
May 4 Tennessee
(49-Delegates)
15.90% 7.22% 68.16%
(49-Delegates)
1.96% 0.46% 1.20% 3.82% - 0.30% 0.14% 0.52% - 0.33% - -
May 6 North Carolina
(64-Delegates)
- - 50.34%
(37-Delegates)
3.74% - 1.15% 7.51% 37.26%
(27-Delegates)
- - - - - - -
May 9 Nebraska
(22-Delegates)
34.33%
(8-Delegates)
41.28%
(16-Delegates)
12.45% 3.58% 1.66% 2.75% 0.92% - 0.65% 1.80% 0.20% - 0.13% - -
May 9 West Virginia
(35-Delegates)
66.92% - 33.08% - - - - - - - - - - - -
May 16 Maryland
(53-Delegates)
26.75%
(?-Delegates)
22.35%
(?-Delegates)
38.67%
(41-Delegates)
2.35% 0.83% 3.12% 2.22% - 0.38% 2.39% 0.84% - - 0.10% -
May 16 Michigan
(132-Delegates)
15.73%
(25-Delegates)
26.81%
(36-Delegates)
50.96%
(71-Delegates)
2.44% - 0.44% 2.78% - - - - - - - 0.67%
May 23 Oregon
(34-Delegates)
12.52% 50.25%
(34-Delegates)
20.03% 2.51% 2.19% 5.39% 0.73% - 1.24% - 0.30% - - 1.59% -
May 23 Rhode Island
(22-Delegates)
20.34% 41.21%
(22-Delegates)
15.32% 20.70% 0.65% 0.36% - - - 0.02% 0.11% - - - 1.29%
June 6 California
(271-Delegates)
38.58% 43.50%
(271-Delegates)
7.53% 2.04% 0.96% 0.81% 4.42% - 0.74% 1.42% - - - - -
June 6 New Jersey
(0-Delegates)
- - - - - - 66.94% 33.06% - - - - - - -
June 6 New Mexico
(18-Delegates)
25.94% 33.28%
(10-Delegates)
29.25%
(8-Delegates)
4.18% - 2.76% 2.09% - - - - - - - 2.49%
June 6 South Dakota
(17-Delegates)
- 100%
(17-Delegates)
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
June 20 New York
(248-Delegates)
- ?
(230-Delegates)
- ?
(2-Delegates)
- - ?
(4-Delegates)
- - - - - - - ?
(12-Delegates)

Counties carried[edit]

1972 Democratic primary results by county popular vote

Total primaries popular vote[edit]

Primaries popular vote results:[14]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Frum, David (2000). How We Got Here: The '70s. New York, New York: Basic Books. p. 298. ISBN 0-465-04195-7.
  2. ^ a b Freeman, Jo (February 2005). "Shirley Chisholm's 1972 Presidential Campaign". University of Illinois at Chicago Women's History Project. Archived from the original on 2015-01-26.
  3. ^ Bernstein, Carl; Woodward, Bob (10 October 1972). "FBI Finds Nixon Aides Sabotaged Democrats". The Washington Post. Retrieved 24 Dec 2018.
  4. ^ "Remembering Ed Muskie", Online NewsHour, PBS, March 26, 1996
  5. ^ Pantazi, Andrew (2016). "Past Duval Presidential Elections". Jacksonville.com. The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved 25 December 2018. Later that year segregationist George Wallace would be shot and handicapped, but before then, he won Florida’s primary decisively, carrying every county but Miami-Dade.
  6. ^ Salam, Reihan (May 27, 2003). "Double Scoop". The New Republic Online.
  7. ^ "A Message of Discontent from Wisconsin Archived 2007-11-18 at the Wayback Machine", "AllPolitics", Time, 04-17-1972.
  8. ^ Miroff. pp. 205.
  9. ^ Steinem, Gloria. Outrageous Acts. p. 114.
  10. ^ The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. "United States presidential election of 1972". Britannica.com. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  11. ^ https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/daily/sept98/wallace051672.htm
  12. ^ https://library.cqpress.com/cqalmanac/document.php?id=cqal72-1249975
  13. ^ a b http://www.centerforpolitics.org/crystalball/articles/the-modern-history-of-the-democratic-presidential-primary-1972-2008/
  14. ^ Our Campaigns - US President - D Primaries Race - Mar 07, 1972