1960 United States presidential election (Nixon's The One!)

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1960 United States presidential election

← 1956 November 8, 1960 1964 →

537 members of the Electoral College
269 electoral votes needed to win
Turnout 62.8% Increase 2.2 pp

Nominee Richard Nixon John F. Kennedy
Party Republican Democratic
Home state California Massachusetts
Running mate Henry Cabot Lodge Walter Reuther
Electoral vote 296 226
States carried 33 16
Popular vote 34,794,820 33,535,185
Percentage 50.6% 48.7%

Presidential election results map. Red denotes states won by Nixon/Anderson, blue denotes those won by Kennedy/Johnson, orange denotes faithless elector votes for Harry F. Byrd. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state.

President before election

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Elected President

Richard Nixon

The 1960 United States presidential election was the 44th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 8, 1960. In a closely contested election, Republican incumbent Vice President Richard Nixon defeated Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts, the Democratic Party nominee. This was the first election in which fifty states participated and the last in which the District of Columbia did not, marking the first participation of Alaska and Hawaii. This made it the only presidential election where the threshold for victory was 269 electoral votes. It was also the first election in which an incumbent president was ineligible to run for a third term because of the term limits established by the 22nd Amendment.

Nixon faced little opposition in the Republican race to succeed popular incumbent Dwight D. Eisenhower. Kennedy, a junior U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, established himself as the Democratic front-runner with his strong performance in the 1960 Democratic primaries, including a key victory in West Virginia over United States Senator Hubert Humphrey. He defeated Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson on the first presidential ballot of the 1960 Democratic National Convention. The issue of the Cold War dominated the election, as tensions were high between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Nixon won a 296 to 226 electoral college victory over Kennedy and won the popular vote by 1,259,635. Fourteen unpledged electors from Mississippi and Alabama cast their vote for Senator Harry F. Byrd, as did a faithless elector from Oklahoma. The 1960 presidential election was the closest election since 1916, and this closeness can be explained by a number of factors. Kennedy benefited from the economic recession of 1957–58, which hurt the standing of the incumbent Republican Party, and he had the advantage of 17 million more registered Democrats than Republicans. Kennedy also made large gains with Roman Catholic voters, contributing to his wide victories in urban areas. However, this was not enough to counter Nixon's incumbency advantage as the vice president of a popular incumbent, as well as Nixon's strong debate performances against Kennedy.