[Marxism] Turns out '68 Riots *Not* Responsible for Humphrey Defeat (or, why Todd Gitlin is a shit-eater)
M. Junaid Alam
junaidalam at msalam.net
Sun Aug 29 07:25:30 MDT 2004
GOP Convention 2004
*Challenging a Media Myth: '68 Riots Didn't Doom Humphrey*
By Greg Mitchell
Published: August 27, 2004 11:38 AM EST
*NEW YORK* If you've read or heard it once, you've probably read or
heard it a hundred times in the past few weeks: If anti-Bush protests
turn violent at the Republican National Convention in New York next
week, it will surely doom Sen. John Kerry to defeat in November. After
all, the conventional wisdom holds, this is precisely what happened to
Vice President Hubert Humphrey in 1968 after the infamous street battles
that took place in Chicago during the Democratic gathering there, at the
height of the Vietnam War.
As often is the case in such distant matters, a little research shows
that this is plain bunk. Humphrey actually gained in the polls
immediately following the convention.
According to Gallup Poll data, in a national survey taken Aug. 7-12,
1968, before the Chicago convention, Republican nominee Richard M. Nixon
easily led Humphrey (who was expected to get his party's nod later that
month in Chicago) by 38.5% to 26%, with the third-party candidate, Gov.
George Wallace, grabbing 16.7%.
So what did the Gallup survey taken on Aug. 30 of that year, immediately
after the Chicago convention, with the protestor/police riots still
fresh in the public's mind, show? Humphrey actually gained support, with
Nixon steady at 38.2%, Humphrey up to 28.7% and Wallace at 19.5%.
In other words, post-riots, Humphrey, who had trailed by 12.5%, had
closed the gap to 9.5%.
The next poll, taken Sept. 19-24, showed almost no difference. Only
later did Humphrey make his run, nearly catching Nixon in the popular
vote (partly due to the vice president belatedly taking a more dovish
position on the war).
Another question often raised in accounts of 1968: Why was there such
anger among antiwar protestors and dovish Democratic delegates over the
convention choosing Humphrey as their candidate?
One explanation: Gallup, in that pre-convention poll taken Aug. 7-12,
also asked where people would stand if the peace candidate, Sen. Eugene
McCarthy, got the Democratic nod. The result put McCarthy much closer to
Nixon than Humphrey at that point: Nixon 38.6%, McCarthy 33.4% and
Asked to pick the party nominee, 48% named McCarthy, 36% Humphrey.
Perhaps that's why, in the August 30 poll, a vast majority of Americans
(76% in favor) said they favored "a nationwide primary election" to
select nominees in the future, not party conventions.
/Greg Mitchell (gmitchell at editorandpublisher.com
<mailto:gmitchell at editorandpublisher.com>) is editor of E&P and author
of seven books on history and politics./
More information about the Marxism