Conditions Surrounding the 1968 Election
Candidates in the 1968 Presidential Primaries
|Democratic Party Primary Candidates||Republican Party Primary Candidates||American Independent Party|
|Hubert Humphrey, vice president, and former Democratic senator from Minnesota||Richard M. Nixon, former vice president under Eisenhower and 1960 presidential candidate||George Wallace, former Alabama Democratic governor who formed a "law-and-order" party|
|Robert F. Kennedy, New York Democratic senator, and former attorney general||Nelson Rockefeller, governor of New York|
|Eugene McCarthy, Minnesota Democratic senator and advocate for ending the war|
Primaries and Outcome
Vice President Hubert Humphrey did not enter the Democratic primaries. However, he managed to gain the support of enough of the delegates from those states not holding primaries to exert influence at the convention. Eugene McCarthy won primaries centered on the idea of putting an end to the war. Republican candidate Richard Nixon pointed out a new administration could end the war. Support for segregationist and prowar candidate George Wallace grew, as many turned to his law-and-order party.
The Republican convention was held in Miami Beach on August 5–8, 1968. The main issue was whether any candidate could stop Nixon. No one could, and he won the nomination. A year later Nixon would call on the silent majority, Americans who supported his Vietnam policy and helped elect him president but who weren't politically outspoken, for their continued support in Vietnam. Nixon believed the silent majority was largely overshadowed by antiwar protestors who were a "noisy minority." The Democratic convention, held in Chicago on August 26–29, was chaotic, as antiwar groups held many protests. The hotly debated platform issue of Vietnam War policy led to an extended floor fight—a combative argument among delegates, often intended to force a vote on an issue or candidate. In the end, Hubert Humphrey won the party's nomination along with an uncompromising platform on Vietnam.
In his campaign, Nixon spoke of reaching an honorable peace in Vietnam and "law and order" at home. Humphrey's campaign dealt with constant hecklers about his Vietnam policy. He advocated establishing "order and justice" at home. George Wallace's campaign kept to one issue—law and order. By October the polls showed Nixon in the lead. On October 31, however, Johnson announced an agreement with North Vietnam to begin peace talks and the suspension of the bombings on the North. Nixon won the election.
November 5, 1968, Presidential Election Results
|Presidential Candidate||Political Party||Popular Vote||Electoral Vote|
|Richard M. Nixon||Republican||31,785,480||301|
|Hubert H. Humphrey||Democratic||31,275,166||191|
|George Wallace||American Independent||9,906,473||45|