John Robben: Election Day 1964 (Dear Diary)

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Monday, November 2, 1964: Tomorrow we elect a President. Four years ago tonight Jack Kennedy was not yet President, but at least he was still alive. Had he lived he certainly would have been reelected to a second term. Instead, his Vice President, Lyndon B. Johnson, who became President on November 22 last year, is running in his place tomorrow. He is not the same calibre of man that President Kenney was, but he has been an effective President these past 11 months and he should defeat Barry Goldwater tomorrow. He is heavily favored to do so. The latest polls show him receiving 61% of the popular vote, Goldwater 32%, with 7% undecided. Margie and I shall cast our ballots tomorrow for Johnson; so shall my parents, and so shall most of our friends. But Margie's parents are voting for Goldwater, as are other relatives and many of our Levittown neighbors. I do not understand how anyone, and particularly any thinking person, can vote for Goldwater. He has encouraged the worst element in this nation to his side: the bigots! And not just the anti-Negro and the anti-Jew, but the anti-Human. He must be defeated tomorrow, and defeated badly.

Twelve years ago I cast my first Presidential vote for Dwight Eisenhower, who was elected and turned out to be a "do-nothing" President. I voted for him under my parents influence. Eight years ago I voted for Adlai Stevenson, under the influence of a Fordham Professor. Four years ago I voted for Jack Kennedy, under Kennedy's influence. This time I'm voting for Lyndon Johnson under Barry Goldwater's influence. The second most interesting contest tomorrow is the New York Senatorial race between incumbent Kenneth Keating, a nice old man whose been a reasonably good Senator and whose strongest recommendation is that he's not backing his own Republican National ticket, and Robert F. Kennedy, former Attorney General, younger brother to the late President Kennedy, and a dynamic and tireless individual for whom Margie and I are voting. We want to see Bobby Kennedy stay in politics and someday be President of this country. He is a slight favorite over Keating tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 3, 1964: An hour ago, at 10:50AM, Margie cast her votes for Johnson, Humphrey and Kennedy, and moments afterwards I did likewise. We were the 248th and 249th people to vote from our district this morning. Nationally there are 71 million voters registered, There's something special about Election Day in this country, particularly when the Presidency is at stake, that makes you feel important, even though you've had nothing to do with selecting the candidates and despite the fact that your vote represents only one-seventieth million of the result. I like thinking I have helped to elect a President and helped to defeat a Goldwater.

The weather here today is spectacularly beautiful, perfect Election Day weather. We were up early this morning and before breakfast I went to the bakery and bought $2.50 worth of rolls and sweet buns. I also stopped in the paper store and picked up the morning New York Times and the current issue of Look, which is a JFK Memorial Issue. Wonderful pictures of President Kennedy and his family, some taken before, some after his death. Four years ago today he was elected President, this day last year he was still alive. His widow, the lovely Jacqueline, writes: "Now he is a legend when he would have preferred to be a man." My vote four years ago helped him to be President. It also helped to put him in that fatal spot in Dallas on November 22 last year.

7:25 PM: Newscasters are already calling Johnson's victory "a landslide!"

8 PM: Johnson has captured 59% of the popular vote. Anything 54% or more is considered a "landslide."

8:45 PM: Television computers are already giving Johnson 279 electoral votes. 270 are needed to win. The good people of America are speaking their minds and are burying Goldwater.

11:40 PM: Johnson's lead is just shy of 7 million. The people have repudiated Barry Goldwater and all he stands for.

1:15 AM: Johnson is smothering Goldwater and now leads by nearly 13 million votes. Here in New York, Robert Kennedy has defeated Ken Keating for Senator. The Republican Party has been dealt a grievous blow, dragged down by Goldwater and his extremist friends. It's a shame for the two-party system in this country, but an accolade for the right-thinking voters. Extremism and bigotry have no rightful place in this world and I'm proud of my countrymen for declaring so.

Wednesday, November 4, 1964: Lyndon Johnson has been elected President by the largest plurality in history: 15,600,000 votes. His Electoral margin was 486 to 52. Goldwater is a badly beaten candidate and I hope he (and his like) shall never be heard from again.

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