November 4, 1964 – Election Night
Election Results – ABC News – November 4, 1964 – 1:30-2:45 am – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
November 4, 1964 Election night, 1964. As Americans went to the polls on November 3rd, the returns slowly came in. By early morning of November 4, it became clear that Lyndon Johnson and the Democrats swept to victory in an upset that stunned many and brought doubts about this new turn to the right the GOP had adopted at their convention in July. Surprising was the victory of Robert F. Kennedy as the new Senator from New York. But equally surprising was the loss of former JFK Press Secretary Pierre Salinger to former song-and-dance-man George Murphy. Salinger had become Senator early in 1964, replacing Claire Engle, who had died in office in July of that year and which Salinger had assumed in August. Salinger’s loss to Murphy marked the only Senate race lost by a Democrat in this otherwise landslide LBJ Victory.
As is always the case with reporting returns, a certain amount of analysis was taking place as the numbers for Democratic wins outnumbered those of the GOP. Many thought it was a repudiation of the GOP’s turn to the extreme right that soured voters and the overwhelming Silent Vote (as some called it) surprised many within the Party. Others went on to say that it only served to bolster Nixon’s future as the nominee in 1968, since he lost by a narrow margin in 1960 and that Goldwater was losing by a huge margin in the 1964 election. Some went on to express predictions that Goldwater and the extreme Right wing of the party would fade into the woodwork, and that the moderate wing of the GOP would bounce back quickly. All analysis and predictions, this Election night in 1964.
This one-hour excerpt starts with Robert Kennedy’s victory speech and continues with remarks from LBJ and analysis by various political observers, including Arthur Schlesinger. It’s interesting that, even with a solid win by the Democrats, and with LBJ achieving the needed number of electoral votes to secure the election, Goldwater was not willing to concede the election, and was reportedly not going to give a statement until sometime the following morning. But so far, Election night 1964 was historic.
And not forgetting the 1964 election was considered one of the more contentious in then-recent memory.
Some things never change.