United States Senate election in Delaware, 1972
|Elections in Delaware|
The United States Senate election in Delaware, 1972 was held November 7, 1972. Incumbent Republican United States Senator J. Caleb Boggs ran for a third term in the United States Senate. Boggs faced off against Joe Biden, a New Castle County Councilman. Though Senator Boggs was expected to easily win a third term over the then-unknown Biden, it ended up being the closest Senate election in 1972, and Biden narrowly beat out Boggs by a little over three thousand votes, winning what would be his first of seven terms.
General election campaign
Longtime Delaware political figure and Republican incumbent Senator J. Caleb Boggs was considering retirement, which would likely have left U.S. Representative Pete du Pont and Wilmington Mayor Harry G. Haskell, Jr. in a divisive primary fight. To avoid that, U.S. President Richard M. Nixon helped convince Boggs to run again with full party support.
No other Democrat wanted to run against Boggs besides Biden, a New Castle County Councilman. Biden's campaign had virtually no money and was given no chance of winning. It was managed by his sister Valerie Biden Owens (who would go on to manage his future campaigns as well) and staffed by other members of his family, and relied upon handed-out newsprint position papers. Biden did receive some assistance from the AFL-CIO and Democratic pollster Patrick Caddell. Biden's campaign issues focused on withdrawal from Vietnam, the environment, civil rights, mass transit, more equitable taxation, health care, the public's dissatisfaction with politics-as-usual, and "change".
During the summer Biden trailed by almost 30 percentage points, but his energy level, his attractive young family, and his ability to connect with voters' emotions gave the surging Biden an advantage over the ready-to-retire Boggs. Biden won the November 7, 1972 election in an upset by a margin of 3,162 votes.
At the time of the election Biden was a little less than 30 years old; age 30 is a constitutional requirement for the U.S. Senate, and he reached that on November 20, in time for the Senate term beginning January 3. After his election he became the sixth-youngest Senator in history.
|Republican||J. Caleb Boggs (Incumbent)||112,844||49.10%||-10.02%|
|Prohibition||Herbert B. Wood||175||0.07%|
|Democratic gain from Republican||Swing|
- Cohen, Celia (2002). Only in Delaware, Politics and Politicians in the First State. Grapevine Publishing. p. 199
- Moritz, Charles (ed.) (1987). Current Biography Yearbook 1987. New York: H. W. Wilson Company. , p. 43.
- Broder, John M. (October 23, 2008). "Father's Tough Life an Inspiration for Biden". The New York Times. Retrieved October 24, 2008.
- Naylor, Brian (October 8, 2007). "Biden's Road to Senate Took Tragic Turn". NPR. Retrieved September 12, 2008.
- Barone, Michael; Cohen, Richard E. (2008). The Almanac of American Politics. Washington: National Journal Group. ISBN 0-89234-117-3., p. 364.