In presidential history… Nov. 3, 1964: Lyndon Baines Johnson Elected President of the United States
National escalating tension over the Vietnam War as well as unprecedented civil rights legislation as part of a “Great Society” are two among several topics associated with Lyndon Baines Johnson. Forty-seven years ago today, a landslide victory prompted Johnson to win the election that declared him the 36th president of the United States.
While Johnson would ultimately become one of the most well-known and controversial figures in U.S. politics, his election was also monumental for other reasons.
– Johnson’s victory represented one of the largest margins in the history of U.S. elections. According to a Nov. 4, 1964 article in The New York Times:
Lyndon Baines Johnson of Texas compiled one of the greatest landslide victories in American history yesterday to win a four-year term of his own as the 36th president of the United States.
In many ways, it’s amazing how much trust the American people put into a man who would ultimately have his legacy destroyed by Vietnam. The interesting nature of Johnson’s win is determined by his announcement only a few years later that he would not run for president. With an approval rating that had fallen 44 spots to 35 percent, Johnson informed the American people on March 31, 1968:
Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President.
– A display of political television at its greatest. While U.S. television campaigning and advertising made its first debut in the early 1950s — particularly with President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s “commercial spot advertisements, it was Johnson’s election campaign that truly innovated U.S. television’s role in presidential elections. His controversial “Daisy” advertisement sparked mixed reactions worldwide, as the number of household television sets in the United States was rising dramatically during the year of his campaign.