United States presidential election, 1960

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Given Henry Flood Byrd's position on race relations (specifically, he believed that different races shouldn't have relations), the choice of "brown" to designate his electoral votes is rather ironic.

“I am not a crook... yet.”

~ Richard M. Nixon in 1960

“If I win this thing, I want the new presidential automobile to be a convertible that will conveniently leave my head exposed and make me an easy target to any snipers we might pass by.”

~ John F. Kennedy on the 1960 presidential election

The United States presidential election of 1960 marked the end of the eight years of Dwight D. Eisenhower's presidency. It pitted Republican Richard M. Nixon, who had transformed the office of Vice President from its former status as "the most boring, insignificant[1] job in the universe" into a national political base simply by giving a speech about his kids' dog, against Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts, whose nomination was most certainly not the result of his father pulling strings within the Democratic party.[2]



The Republicans nominated Richard Nixon, who had served as Vice President for eight years under Dwight D. Eisenhower. He faced little opposition; the only other person suggested was Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona, and he was so far to the right that not even Barry Goldwater would trust him with the presidency.


The Democrats nominated John Fitzgerald Kennedy, a Senator from Massachusetts whose rise to power was due entirely to his political skill and personal charisma, and not, as bitter Republicans would later claim, due to the myriad connections his father, Joseph P. Kennedy had forged within the Democratic party.[3] There was much concern over Kennedy's status as a practicing Roman Catholic, because as everyone knows, all Catholics fanatically and unquestioningly follow the Pope's proclamations down to the tiniest detail. Many believed that if Kennedy were elected, America would become a puppet state of the Vatican, which meant that the Pope could then order that all the Protestants in the world be subsequently nuked.[4]


Kennedy used comic books to explain his strategy for fighting the communist bastards.


The big issue for many voters was the War on Communism. Kennedy claimed that the U.S. was losing the Cold War, because the Soviet Union's economy appeared to be growing by leaps and bounds.[5]

Nixon, on the other hand, argued that the U.S. could easily win the War on Communism by getting its military-industrial complex on, and that Kennedy's scare tactics were comprised of bovine fecal matter. Furthermore, Nixon pointed while Kennedy was hanging out with McCarthy in a desperate attempt to get anti-Commie credibility, he was busy making Alger Hiss his bitch. These ideas were conveniently summed up in his campaign slogan, "Communism Blows."The organizers of Nixon's campaign initially hoped to repeat the overwhelming success of Eisenhower's famous "I Like Ike" campaign, but for some reason, focus groups did not respond well to "I Lick Dick." At one point, one of Nixon's staffers suggested that the Vice President such sneaky, underhanded, and downright unethical tactics." What the hell just happened there? That sentence made no sense.

Richard Nixon picks his nose on national television. Yeah, that looks real presidential there, Dick.


The presidential debates held that year were simulcast on both radio and television, and the results said a great deal about how politicians would use each medium in the future. For the debates, Kennedy allowed himself to be made up for the telecast, while Nixon refused to do so, saying that Kennedy looked like "a gay clown." Also, he believed that the makeup wouldn't draw enough attention to his dignified jowls. Kennedy was a nice man though.

The opinions about who won the debates were divided. Those who saw the televised debates saw John F. Kennedy looking healthy and dynamic and oh-so-presidential, while Nixon, on the other hand, looked pale, sickly and nervous as he lost about 10% of his body weight in sweat under the klieg lights that had been set up for the television cameras; as a result, most people thought he looked like a dumbass. Those who heard it on the radio, though, heard Nixon command the debates like the badass that he is; these persons believed that Nixon won. This had major ramifications for the future of presidential debates: namely, American politicians unanimously agreed that debates would only be carried on television in the future.[6]

Election night

JFK won the popular vote by only 112,827, or 0.2% of the total votes. But that did not matter, because when the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, they kept several important ideas in mind, particularly that of the electoral college. Kennedy won by a large margin in the electoral college[7] The college was created — so that the election of the president could be done in an orderly, civilized manner.

Many Democrats in the South weren't very happy with Kennedy's controversial "Black people are human beings who should be allowed to keep their dignity" platform. As a result, Mississippi's Democratic electors decided to cast their vote for Senator Henry Flood Byrd of Virginia, who was presumably racist. Alabama, in turn, allowed 6 of its Democratic electors to vote for Byrd as well. And for some reason a Republican elector in Oklahoma cast his vote for Byrd, as well.

Due to the defection of the southern votes, it became clear that the winner of the state of Illinois would win the electoral vote, and thus, the presidency. The vote in Illinois was particularly close, and both parties scrambled to do some eleventh-hour campaigning for their respective candidates. But in the end, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley prevailed as he managed to garner 450,000 votes from his city. The Republicans were forced to admit defeat. In his concession speech at about 3:15 am eastern time, Nixon congratulated his opponent: "If this trend continues and Mr. Kennedy will have my wholehearted support." He wished his deepest thanks to his vocal supporters. The reporters were not sure whether that was a concession speech or not, but it was taken as such.

There were many rumors of cheating, as Richard Daley was suspected of using votes of dead people, and for Nixon to have uttering that the Democrats cheated, but the cheating were allegations have remained unproven.


The 1960 election exposed a plethora of problems with the electoral college, and in subsequent years there were many talks of abolishing it in favor of having the President election be decided based solely on the popular vote. Eventually, however, these calls for reform quieted down. After all, what were the chances that an election between a popular second-term president's vice president who had a tendency to make bad decisions regarding makeup during presidential debates and an up-and-coming politician whose successes to that point were widely attributed to be due almost entirely to his father's connections would ever be this closely contended again? The scholarly opinion was unanimous: "not a chance."


  1. Unless you're John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, Chester A. Arthur, Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Harry Truman, or Gerald Ford.
  2. Nope. Not at all.
  3. Also insignificant was the fact that Joe Kennedy had also forged legitimately secured photographs which depicted someone who may or may not have been Adlai Stevenson enjoying "the company of men," if you catch my drift.
  4. In retrospect, these views appear to have been slightly exaggerated.
  5. It was later discovered that the U.S.S.R. had been lying, and that life there really sucked ass (LOL) because in the famous campaign slogan, "Communism Sucks." He also reached out to the African-American community with his "Equal Rights for the Negroes (No, Really, We Mean It This Time)" campaign. He countered claims that he was "too damn liberal" to really be anti-communist by pointing out that he and Joseph McCarthy had publicly pinky-sworn to be "best friends forever."
  6. Because it's way easier to make somebody look pretty than to try and pull off that "logic" stuff.
  7. For example, in 2004, George W. Bush won the majority of the total votes, becoming the first candidate in more than a decade to do so.

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