Sunday, November 06, 2016

Campaign collectibles from a calmer time: Richard Nixon, John Kennedy and one of the closest elections ever

Today's campaign collectibles from a calmer time takes us back to 1960, one of the closest elections ever, hotly debated to this day.

Sen. John F, Kennedy and Vice President Richard Nixon were separated by 112,827 votes, a 0.17 percent difference.

Kennedy's electoral vote margin was larger, 303 to 219. But consider that six states -- Hawaii, Illinois, Missouri, California, New Mexico and New Jersey -- were won by less than 1 percent, and five of the six went to Kennedy. Switch a couple of those states around and the electoral vote gets closer or changes hands.

There continues to be some talk about voting in Chicago, and Texas where there were some counties in Texas where there were more votes counted than there were registered voters. Both states went to Kennedy.

But Kennedy also lost 14 electoral votes in the South, where "unpledged Democratic electors" were on the ballot. Southern Democrats were opposed to the civil rights and voting rights platforms in the national party's platform, and electors instead cast their votes for Virginia Sen. Harry F. Byrd, a segregationist who wasn't even running.

A couple cool fast facts: The 1960 election was the first in which 50 states participated, as Alaska and Hawaii joined the union the year before. Both had three electoral votes. Alaska went to Nixon and Hawaii to Kennedy.

The election also was the first to feature presidential debates, where a tanned and relaxed Kennedy is said to have gained an advantage over Nixon, who had just spent two weeks in the hospital because of an injured knee, sweated and declined makeup.

As for collectibles, there are lots of Kennedy items to be found. He's a popular president and there are many reproductions of his famous pins out there.

You don't see too many affordable pins with photos of Kennedy with running mate Lyndon Johnson and Nixon with Henry Cabot Lodge.

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