The Election Campaign of Richard M. Nixon

A political analysis

Essay, 2016

10 Pages, Grade: 1,3


Table of contents

1 Abstract

2 Relevant History

3 Marketing Campaign Strategies

4 Catchpenny promises

5 Resume

6 Sources

1 Abstract

In this thesis the election campaign of the 37th President of The United States Richard Milhous Nixon 1968 is examined. Nixon’s election campaign was successful and is therefore relevant to analyze.

At first, the significant background story of Nixon’s political career is presented including who were the main players. This is followed by the answering, why his campaign to the 37th nominee of The United States President was effective and how the marketing strategies worked efficiently. In detail, it is examined whether some parts of the campaigns were successful and which statements he held wrongly. In the final stage of this thesis, a conclusion of Nixon’s fight for the presidency is drawn.

2 Relevant History

Beginning in his early adolescence, Richard M. Nixon early developed sense of fierce, since he dedicated himself to student fraternities (was elected as President) and later received a scholarship from Harvard University. 1934 he graduated from Harvard with honors and started academic law studies at Duke University by receiving another grant. Afterwards he continued his career by working in a chancellery and served military service, where he got to know his future Foreign Minister William P. Rogers.

A significant step in his political curriculum was the nomination to the House of Representatives in 1946 incorporating the Republican Party as Californian Congressman and his entrance into the Senate in 1950. During 1952 and 1960 he performed as Vice President of The United States by representing the Running Mate of Dwight D. Eisenhower. Later, Nixon, being the number one candidate of the Republican Party, lost the election process against the future President John F. Kennedy. By failing the election to the Governor of California 1962, the political career of Nixon seemed to be enclosed; however he tried to return and focused on a candidature in 1968.

Hence, in 1968 he was successful against the candidates Romney, Rockefeller and Reagan in the Primaries. By working together with his future Vice President Spiro Agnew, he won against candidate Humphrey with 301 to 191 votes in the Electoral College and became the 37th President of The United States1.

3 Marketing Campaign Strategies

In the following Richard M. Nixon’s campaign for the candidature 1968 is examined.

Beginning in 1967, Nixon slightly developed a plan to advertise and to conciliate his programs as a potential President. At first, he operated in the States of New Hampshire, Oregon and Wisconsin to gain reputation in the country. The ‘Nixon President Committee’ as well as an advertising team consisting of members of economics and politics was the first major advances in the electoral race to the Presidency in 1968. Aspects of the campaign strategy, mainly coordinated by Campaign Manager Henry Bellmon, were travel operations to Europe and Latin America to strengthen his regard on foreign policy and international alliances according to the Vietnam War.

Foreign politics versus domestic issues

As a matter of fact, through the issue on the war in Asia, an immense controversy between foreign affairs and domestic policy occurred, which had significant impact on the further campaign strategy of Nixon. Indeed, he was known as a ‘foreign specialist’ and wanted to favor his campaign including solutions for the war issue. He delegated all available troops to settle in South Vietnam to represent strength of the United States. Ensuing he aimed to provide support for the Vietnam stability, in other words to later replace American troops by Vietnamese troops, known as his “Vietnamization Strategy”.

As mentioned above, it was not only the Vietnam issue which was covered in Nixon’s campaign strategy, it was also the travelling around Europe and South America to force problems on the ground. This characterized Nixon, according to Republic supporters, as an adequate candidate to deal with global matters.

His marketing team advised him not to rely completely on foreign issues, since his ability to win had to include home matters as well. Due to this, Nixon focused on supporting several senators, which arguably would accompany him in the electoral process. For the US state of New York, for instance, he helped Senator Jakob Javits to raise financial support for his re-election. Notwithstanding one significant misstep by focusing on domestic policy in that year was his attitude towards taxes and minor groups. He mentioned once that governmental taxes for Afro-Americans for small business and home improvements should have been of a larger amount than for white Americans. This caused several critics on his overall campaign strategy. On the contrary, he promised that as an elected President he would provide complete justice on social matters.

First electoral campaign (1968)

In the beginning of 1968, Nixon gained huge success throughout his strategy in Primaries in New Hampshire, were he mainly discussed ‘beyond politics’, meaning an overall focus on local and foreign issues. In fact, Richard M. Nixon represents himself as a very convincing and fluent speaker. He was able to answer on every issue immediately during his campaigns, which characterized him as relaxed and confident in counter to his unsure self from 1960.

His counterparts in the electoral race, current President Johnson and rival George Romney were weakened in different ways through the campaign’s strategy. Nixon and his marketing team were able to position themselves on the contrary of President Johnson in terms of the Vietnam issues. Nixon’s message towards his promises as a President was that the United States would ever help the nation and its citizens for a free world. Supporters of the complete withdrawal from Vietnam therefore affiliated with Nixon as he stated his attitudes towards the ending of the war. His opponent Romney exited the electoral competition, since he was overstrained by politics on Vietnam and would not denote a disputant for Nixon’s strategy any more.

Success through criticism

After President Johnson was mainly removed from running for another term in office, Nixon unpredictably fell behind the Democratic Party with its candidates McCarthy, Humphrey and Kennedy in head-to-head matchups. Nixon therefore continued on attacking and criticizing the opposite party saying that a divided Democratic Party obviously cannot handle the important external issues as well as the problematic of local policies instancing the racial segregation in the United States. Moreover, Nixon’s actual strategy admitted a cutting of government spending and a criticism on Democratic policy to raise taxes. He mentioned as a general statement for his Primary campaign that there cannot be order in a free society without progress, and vice versa there will be no progress without order.

In April 1968 it seemed that Nixon’s Republican opponent Rockefeller would play a significant role in the further campaign strategy. As a matter of fact, Rockefeller won the Primaries in the State of Massachusetts. To continue after Nixon’s success in Indiana and Nebraska, he relied to his earlier method to criticize the Democratic Party, saying that all Democratic candidates are ‘prisoners of the policies in the past’. Moreover, he focused to tackle crime by announcing a specific committee and strengthen legislations by the American Supreme Court. Nixon affirmed that racial issues are not mainly connected to crime, which arguably antagonized his earlier point of view to discriminate minor groups by raising taxes. The strategy to give attention to the crime issue in the United States benefited his Primary results as he defeated Reagan in Nebraska and Oregon with 71% to 22% respectively 72% to 22%2.

After taking a break in June 1968, affected by the murderer of rival Robert Kennedy, Nixon kept on target for the nomination for the Republican Party. In fact, he received an endorsement of more than 667 delegates, at least by the support from Texas Senator John G. Tower. His course of action according to his further election strategy was rather reluctant, as his opponent Rockefeller criticized him, while Nixon refused to continue in a battle with his rival.

New ideas and the “Southern Strategy”

One month later (July 1968), Nixon coordinated his advertising team to prepare campaigns for the General Elections. His major advantage was the usage of advertising film material featuring discussions and question-to-answer talks. Fortunately, the Democratic Party have not had nominated a candidate to promote yet, therefore Nixon was the first who was able to reach the masses before General Elections. Especially his advertising team focused on the Swing States, instancing Illinois, Michigan and Ohio, which normally are not of a clear preferred party. In addition, he concentrated on the seven big States including California, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas as well. Nixon’s strategy within these States was mainly the covering of issues on crime and complaint. Moreover he changed his known opinion towards the Vietnam Crisis and to create a voluntary army service.

A significant step towards the nomination and the further success of Richard M. Nixon was his so-called “Southern Strategy”. It covered the attitudes to strengthen the political support for the Republicans by tempting to disaffect Democratic Voters. Nixon focused on the attraction of conservative voters who might have vote for the contrary. In the continuation of this strategy by relying on local matters and general issues like the military service and the Vietnam War, Nixon won Florida, North and South Carolina as well as Tennessee and Virginia in the presidential campaign of 1968, which had huge impact on his Presidency.

Final steps in strategy towards the Election

In September of that year, he held the speech for the ‘forgotten American’ in San Francisco, CA, in front of ten thousands of Republican supporters. Main aspects were the motivation of the people as well as to promise an appropriate live, instancing to love their country, go to church and believe in general American values as well to send children to school, but also to fulfill their duties of paying taxes. Even though the marketing team of Nixon’s campaign reacted exuberantly and started to prepare for a transition period after the Primaries, he remained well grounded and rational. To his supporters therefore, he proved sympathy; in overall polls Nixon lead by 43% over Humphrey with 28%3.

Further strategies of Richard M. Nixon in October 1968 included diverse television advertisements. As a matter of fact, it consisted of two controversial commercials, because one characterized the chaos at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, therefore a criticism on the opponent, while the other one showed Humphrey smiling next to an image of the Vietnam War. Understood, he received a lot of reproach and lost several supporters.

On month later, when the current President announced another bombing in Vietnam, Nixon’s assistant Anna Chennault had a secret talk to the Vietnamese, in which she explained that it would be more facile to deal with Nixon. On the day before the General Election on the 05.11.1968, Nixon and his opponent Humphrey used time to dedicate themselves to diverse broadcasting channels in order to express their very last statement for the election (for Nixon at NBC station with an expense of $6.270.0004 ).

In fact, on Election Day the results were not significantly varying in what extent as it was predicted before. At least, his marketing campaign, as examined above, mainly worked in California, Illinois and Ohio as well as the most West and mid-West States, which helped him to be named as the 37th President of the United States.

4 Catchpenny promises

In the following, some of Richard Milhous Nixon’s wrong promises according to his overall marketing campaigns from 1967-1968 are examined5.

"I am not going to join the parade of those who promise to spend more billions this year while ignoring the reality of our present situation.”

As mentioned above, Nixon did spend huge amounts on his marketing campaigns. On the very last eve before the elections, he financed for instance the television commercial on NBC station for more than $6.000.000. In fact, his strategies, especially by his marketing team squandered huge amounts, in other words, his campaigns were highly capitalistic and success orientated, while he disregarded the vast issue of racial segregation.

Nixon might not have argued with this statement, since a huge spending in marketing campaigns is common practice. You cannot reach an immense amount of possible electors without focusing on particular regions and peer groups, especially when you have to convince the opponent voters, like he used to favor in the ‘Southern Strategy’.

"Only if we can make substantial progress toward balancing the federal budget are millions of Americans going to be able to balance their family budgets.”

As a matter of fact, Nixon did not offer enough and sustainable refinancing options; therefore he was not able to support the poor families and to offer them a new belief in American standard of living and values. As it was of his preference in the Primaries, he focused principally on foreign policy, instancing the Vietnam War.

It is important to observe that he was one of the first Presidents in American history to solve problems on the ground. A more appropriate division of financial expenses would have been more efficient, since he spent the most amounts on, according to his preferences, the most important issues, instancing problems of foreign policy. It is comprehensible, because he was acting in the interest of protection of the United States. A system of subsidies, in other words to support children to take part in secondary education financially, could have been developed by Nixon.

"In cutting spending, however, one area we must not shortchange is education. To neglect education would be to undermine our children's future. We must preserve local control of the schools, but continue federal assistance."

Nixon did promise in his very last statements the will of an adequate school system and the possibility for every child in the United States to go to educational institutes. In reality, he mainly failed to create an educational system, which provides an access for the poor families to the school system. Federal assistance and financial support for this sector were not effectively realized while Nixon was serving as a President.

He could have developed any program for the government and the people over an average income to offer the possibility to provide a complete educational system. It is necessary, since America aimed on a high standard of living for everyone and success for the individual, which is determined by appropriate education.


1 Michael A. Cohen, American Maelstrom, 2016

2 US Election Atlas, 1968 Presidential General Election Results, 2012

3 US Election Atlas, 1968 Presidential General Election Results, 2012

4 The Washington Post, Campaign Finance Special Report, 1998

5 All Statements from: 4, The Nixon Stand, 2016

Excerpt out of 10 pages


The Election Campaign of Richard M. Nixon
A political analysis
ESCP Europe Business School - Campus Madrid
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
Political Analysis, Political Marketing, Social Marketing, US Political System
Quote paper
Jaby Felix Coronel (Author), 2016, The Election Campaign of Richard M. Nixon, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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