Nixonland Nitpick 6
Nixonland credits Nixon’s 1968 TV campaign to Gene Jones, who had made a fine war documentary without narration. “Nixon’s commercials would run without narration as well” (p. 333). No, an important ad did have narration. “Decisions” asked: “Think about it – when the decisions of one man can affect the future of your family for generations to come, what kind of a man do you want making those decisions?” The theme and visuals anticipated Senator Clinton’s “3 AM” ad this year.
The book says Nixon’s 1960 loss was “the closest any made had come to the presidency without winning” (p. 352). No, in 1880, Democrat Winfield Hancock lost the popular tally to James Garfield by less than ten thousand votes. In 1916, Republican Charles Evans Hughes lost the popular vote to Woodrow Wilson by about 3 percent, but if just 2,000 California votes had shifted from Wilson to Hughes, the latter would have won the electoral vote and the presidency.
The book says that Nixon won in 1968 with “something that no other Republican presidential candidate, with minor exceptions, had ever had before: electoral votes from the South. Wallace took Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana. But Nixon got Arkansas, Tennessee, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina — and Strom Thurmond’s South Carolina” (353-354). That’s wrong in a couple of ways. First, Arkansas went to Wallace, not Nixon. Second, this election was most certainly not the first in which a Republican got a substantial electoral vote in the South. Consider:
- In 1928, Hoover carried Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
- In 1952, Eisenhower carried Florida, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
- In 1956, Eisenhower carried Florida, Louisiana, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
- In 1960, Nixon carried Florida, Tennessee, and Virginia.
- In 1964, Goldwater carried Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina.