This week in 1972, President Nixon was reelected in a huge landslide. He put together one of the greatest election victories of all time. He got 61% of the popular vote, beating Senator George McGovern by 18 million votes. Add 520 electoral votes to the story and you have the textbook definition of a wipeout.
Who predicted that? I was there and don’t remember anyone predicting that a year before.
Why should President Trump’s team look at that election? I see some interesting similarities:
1) 1971 polls projected a very tight race: Nixon 43 vs Muskie 39. As we know now, Senator Edmund Muskie never made it and President Nixon won big.
2) Senator McGovern did not have a issue. In other words, the anti-war candidate ran against a war that was practically over on election day.
3) The Democrat convention was a circus and nominee Senator McGovern did not deliver his acceptance speech until after midnight. I saw it, but most people probably didn’t. Who watches acceptance speeches at 3 a.m. ET?
So what can we learn?
First, all the polls are worthless. President Nixon was vulnerable against Senator Muskie or Senator Hubert Humphrey. However, he ran against Senator McGovern, a nice man but not much more.
As in 1972, the Democrats may nominate an unelectable nominee!
Second, results matter. Nixon put up results, such as ending the war that got him elected. President Trump has results in the form of a growing economy.
Last but not least, the 2020 convention could be a huge circus like the 1972 gathering that showed the country a side of America that President Nixon could run against.
My guess is that President Trump (corrected) won’t get 61% of the vote or 520 electoral votes. Nevertheless, he will run for re-election with a strong economy. It will be difficult for Americans to buy a message of “doom” when their eyes are seeing something else.
I’m sure that there a lot of smart people at the Trump 2020 offices. I hope that they go back and read the 1972 Nixon strategy.
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