WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2022
The need to peel away votes: As of last night, the suspense is finally over. Donald Trump has finally said that he's running again!
In their report in the New York Times, Bennett and Haberman refer to the former president's "unusually early announcement." Our thoughts drifted back to the dawn of the modern presidential era—to the famous and storied 1960 campaign.
Procedures were substantially different in that primitive era. Senator John F. Kennedy announced he was running for president on January 2, 1960—in January of the election year!
There were only ten months to go! Pepperidge Farm remembers:
On January 2, 1960, Kennedy formally announced that he would seek the Democratic presidential nomination in Washington, D.C. and stated that he would participate in multiple primaries, including New Hampshire...
On January 5, 1960, Governor Michael DiSalle, who was initially running as a favorite son candidate to lead Ohio's delegation at the national convention, endorsed Kennedy and stated that he would lead the Ohio delegation in support of him. On January 8, Kennedy filed to run in the New Hampshire primary, being the only major candidate to do so.
Our presidential elections weren't yet being run as a slush find for New Hampshire motel owners! At any rate, the election was only ten months away. That seemed like sufficient time back in that primitive era.
That storied campaign produced a lot of campaign lore. To cite one example, it produced the famous (though bogus) claim that people who listened on the radio thought Nixon won the debates.
They couldn't see how much more handsome Kennedy was! So goes this bogus lore.
To this day, upper-end journalists haven't tired of repeating that bogus claim about the 1960 race. On the brighter side, the campaign also produced one of our greatest political jokes, recalled here by Elaine Kamarck:
The next opportunity for [Kennedy] to prove himself to the [Democratic Party] bosses was the May 10 West Virginia primary...In fact, Kennedy spent so much money to win West Virginia that he later famously quipped, “I just received the following wire from my generous Daddy; Dear Jack, Don’t buy a single vote more than is necessary. I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay for a landslide.”
It's one of our greatest political jokes! In fact, Kennedy had been telling versions of this self-deprecating joke, right out in public, since at least 1958.
It's worth recalling that the nation's population was substantially smaller back then—just under 180 million. (Also, it was much less diverse.) In November 1960, the popular vote turned out to be (something like) this:
Popular vote, 1960 election
Kennedy / Johnson: 34,220,984
Nixon / Lodge: 34,108,157
By way of contrast, Trump received 74.2 million votes in 2020. He more than doubled Kennedy's vote! It's no wonder he wants to try again!
The population was much smaller then—and it was concentrated in different places. The state of New York had the most electoral votes. Believe it or not, these were the five largest allocations:
Electoral votes, 1960 election
New York: 45
Kennedy lost California, but won Texas, thus winning its 24 votes.
(Full disclosure! Our family moved to California in August of that year, as we entered eighth grade. Over the course of the next five years, we discovered that the suburban San Francisco of that era was a substantially better place than the old-world, culturally crabbed Northeast.)
At any rate, Kennedy announced in January of that very year! Somehow, we managed to conduct a presidential campaign in the space of just ten months. That's how backward we were!
No one in that year's campaign was as disordered as Donald J. Trump. Kennedy's money to the side, it's also true that no one had access to round-the-clock propaganda / misinformation messaging in the way modern candidates do.
(There was no Internet, and thus no social media. Talk radio was just getting started. There was no "cable news.")
Our politics has been badly distorted by the full emergence of Donald J. Trump in 2015. In the wake of last week's election results, the Republican Party may drift back to the practice of nominating more conventional candidates for all our national offices.
As we noted yesterday, our blue tribe managed to beat Tarleton State in many of last week's elections. (Tarleton State is an excellent school with a nascent football program.)
We managed to beat Tarleton State! That said, we frequently did so by extremely narrow margins. In what ways could we possibly improve our game, possibly peeling votes away in our nation's future elections?
In response to the question you've asked, our thoughts have drifted back to Kevin Drum's recent list. He listed seven slightly annoying things our arguably imperfect blue tribe may on some occasions possibly tend to do.
Tomorrow, we'll return to Kevin's list. Our blue tribe is deeply sunk in its ways, which may sometimes be unwise and unhelpful.
Tomorrow: We're struck by two of those items