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The presidential election of 1960 changed the way the modern campaign would be run, especially through its use of media and the introduction of the “Great Debates.”  The purpose of this project is to analyze which factors may have led to the ultimate conclusion, with John F. Kennedy winning the presidency instead of Richard Nixon.

Some of the factors that may swayed the election in Kennedy’s favor include Nixon’s injury and overachievement, Kennedy’s Roman Catholicism, the influence of the African American vote, Eisenhower’s lack of support for Nixon, and most importantly, how Kennedy fared much better in the Great Debates. Before looking at the factors of the election that led to the victory of Kennedy, the younger and less experienced of the two, it is important to look at a brief history of both politicians.


RICHARD NIXON:  Before running for the presidency in 1960, Republican Richard Nixon had already had an extremely successful political career.  He served in the Navy in World War II as a lieutenant commander, although he did not actually see combat. Later, Nixon was elected as Representative of the House and then Senator from California before serving as vice president to Dwight D. Eisenhower for two terms (Matthews, 16).





JOHN F. KENNEDY: Democrat John F. Kennedy served in the Navy during World War II before becoming Representative of the House and later Senator from Massachusetts. Although the most important aspects that led to Kennedy’s victory will be discussed later, here it is important to mention some of the smaller advantages Kennedy had going in to the election. First, much like in the primaries, he used polls to find out what issues were important to the voters in different areas. Next, he came from a family of money, and he had enough of it to fund his campaign. Moreover, campaign-wise, he had great appeal to the Democratic South, especially since his running mate, Lyndon B. Johnson, was from Texas.




Written By: Greg Herrigel

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