The Robinson Library
The Robinson Library >> American History >> United States: General History and Description >> Late 20th Century, 1961-2000 >> Richard Nixon's Administration, 1969-1974
1972 Presidential Election


In January 1972, there were six major Democratic candidates for the presidential nomination: Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine, Senator George McGovern of South Dakota, Senator Henry Jackson of Washington, New York City Mayor John Lindsay, and Alabama Governor George Wallace. The names of former Senator Eugene McCarthy and Representative Wilbur Mills were entered in a few key primaries, but neither man actively campaigned for the nomination. Wallace was forced to drop out of the race after being shot during a campaign stop in Laurel, Maryland, in May.

Senator Humphrey greets well-wishers after a campaign news conference in Los Angeles, California.
Hubert Humphrey in Los Angeles

Senator Muskie campaigns in Milwaukee before the Wisconsin presidential primary.
Muskie in Milwaukee

The Democratic National Convention was held in Miami Beach, Florida, from July 10 through July 14. Senator McGovern entered the convention with the most delegates, but was short of the 1,509 needed for nomination. Despite a staunch anti-McGovern coalition, McGovern backers were able to get all 271 California delegates on their side and, as a result, the nomination for their candidate.

Democratic delegates react to McGovern's nomination.
Democrats react to McGovern's nomination

The Democratic Convention also nominated Missouri Senator Thomas Eagleton for Vice-President, but he was forced to remove his name from the ticket 10 days later after it was revealed that he had undergone shock treatments twice for mental depression in the 1960's. The Democratic National Committee subsequently named Sargent Shriver to take his place.

Thomas Eagleton withdraws his candidacy.
Thomas Eagleton

Sargent Shriver joins the Democratic ticket.
Sargent Shriver


President Nixon's only real opposition for the Republican nomination was Congressman Paul McCloskey of California, who ran on an anti-war platform. McCloskey challenged Nixon in the March 7 New Hampshire primary, but only got 20 percent of the vote (Nixon got 69 percent); he dropped out of the race on March 10.

The Republican National Convention was held in Miami Beach, Florida, from August 21 through August 23, and President Nixon and Vice-President Agnew were both renominated without opposition.

Balloons drop over the Republican delegates as President Nixon is renominated.
President Nixon is renominated

The Campaign and Final Election

President Nixon left most of the campaigning duties to Vice-President Agnew, while both McGovern and Shriver vigorously campaigned across the country. Despite some public concerns regarding the Watergate break-in, the Nixon-Agnew ticket never trailed in the polls, due in large part to the removal of most American combat units from Vietnam.

Vice-President Agnew greets admirers during a campaign stop in Columbus, Ohio.
Agnew greets admirers in Columbus

McGovern on the campaign trail.
McGovern on the campaign trail

Nixon makes a rare campaign appearance, on Liberty Island in New York.
Nixon on Liberty Island

On November 7, Richard Nixon won 49 states (all but Massachusetts and the District of Columbia), and all but 17 of the 538 Electoral College votes. Nixon received 47,042,923 popular votes, McGovern 29,071,356, making Nixon;s victory one of the greatest landslides in U.S.history.

President Nixon and Vice-President Agnew celebrate their re-elections.
Nixon and Agnew rejoice in victory

Hubert Humphrey
Edmund Muskie
George Wallace
Sargent Shriver
Spiro Agnew

Questions or comments about this page?

The Robinson Library >> American History >> United States: General History and Description >> Late 20th Century, 1961-2000 >> Richard Nixon's Administration, 1969-1974

This page was last updated on December 31, 2017.