[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 
Wallace 15.5%.

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./

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