What Is Goldwater's Loss In The 1964 Election

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There is quite a bit of literature that discusses Goldwater 's loss to President Johnson in the 1964 presidential election. Today, I will discuss two articles in particular, “Vietnam and the 1964 Election” and “The Defeat of a Maverick.” They both conclude different reasons for Goldwater 's loss, but they also make some similar contentions. Both articles make the point of noting Goldwater 's militant rhetoric. In “The Defeat of a Maverick,” this militant style was seen as his central failing: he was rigidly conservative and had an “unrestrained manner,” (Matthews 662). In “Vietnam and the 1964 Election,” Goldwater 's unrestrained manner was cited as one of the reasons Johnson 's peace message and Vietnam promises were misconstrued. Where the…show more content…
In his quick, eleven-year rise, Goldwater was praised for his independence and outspokenness. However, these qualities do not a president make, at least that was the case in 1964. If we look at Goldwater had he run against Kennedy, as originally planned, and not Johnson, a different outcome can be pictured. Had Kennedy not been assassinated, Goldwater 's campaign style would have been seen differently, and perhaps the margin of loss would not have been so large. Goldwater had planned his campaign on running against Kennedy, however, it was not to be. Despite a different opponent, Goldwater continued to use his “formula for past success: attack the Democratic party with total candor and uncompromising ideology,” (Matthews 665). Johnson 's weakness was perceived to be foreign policy, and Goldwater chose this as his area for which to attack. It was his decision to fire at Johnson 's foreign policy record that ultimately cost Goldwater the election. It was ultimately decided that Goldwater did not have “the prudence to choose when force was necessary,” (Matthews 665). Goldwater 's rigid philosophy and tendency to be unrestrained painted him as lacking “good judgment,” (Matthews 669). In the end, 25% of people thought he acted “without thinking,” and was no longer a maverick but “a careless extremist,”
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