The 1964 U.S. presidential election was the 45th quadrennial presidential election. For this election, the number of electors in the Electoral College reached 538, where it remains today. Additionally, the 23rd Amendment was ratified, giving Washington D.C. electoral representation. The election was a contest between incumbent Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson and Republican Arizona Governor Barry Goldwater.
Lyndon B. Johnson came into the office the year before the election following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He had successfully associated himself with Kennedy’s popularity and easily defeated the Governor of Alabama George Wallace for the Democratic nomination. At the Democratic National Convention, Johnson also won the nomination of his preferred running mate Minnesota Senator Hubert Humphrey. Johnson was renominated at the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Barry Goldwater fought against the former New York governor Nelson Rockefeller for the Republican nomination. Goldwater won several key primaries and was nominated on the first ballot at the Republic convention in San Francisco. His nomination stirred some controversy as Republican moderates considered Goldwater’s views to be outside the Republican mainstream. A majority of Republicans favored Pennsylvania governor William Scranton over Goldwater for the nomination.
Major topics discussed during the general election campaign included civil rights, Vietnam, and the economy. Goldwater focused on lawlessness and crime in big cities. Because Republicans focused so little on getting the vote of black Americans, black voters sided with the Democrats, allowing Johnson to win in states like Virginia, Tennessee, and Florida. Johnson attacked Goldwater for being an extremist who could be a danger to Americans, especially when it came to foreign affairs. Johnson was also able to champion his passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as well as advocating a series of anti-poverty programs known as the Great Society.
Lyndon Johnson won the following states in the 1964 election:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Barry Goldwater won the following states in the 1964 election:
- South Carolina
Johnson defeated Goldwater in the popular vote and dominated in the electoral vote. Lyndon Johnson received 42,825,463 popular votes and Barry Goldwater received 27,146,969. In the Electoral College, Johnson received 486 votes and Goldwater received 52.
Lyndon B. Johnson became the 36th president of the United States. He was inaugurated on January 20, 1965.