I was born in 1950 and grew up a precocious kid. I remember discussing politics with my grandfather before I was 10¹.
November 8th, 1960 I sat in front of the TV to watch Huntley and Brinkley and see who would win. No fancy graphics. No satellite live shots (no satellites). Lots of older, white, male, talking heads and numbers written with grease pencils. I was mesmerized.
Through the evening the numbers were tight. I went to bed not knowing who won.
By Wednesday morning nothing had changed! The election was still up in-the-air. It wasn’t until Illinois reported that the election was won.
Kennedy won Illinois by less than 9,000 votes out of 4.75 million cast, or a margin of two-tenths of one percent. However, Nixon carried 92 of the state’s 101 counties, and Kennedy’s victory in Illinois came from the city of Chicago, where Mayor Richard J. Daley held back much of Chicago’s vote until the late morning hours of November 9. The efforts of Daley and the powerful Chicago Democratic organization gave Kennedy an extraordinary Cook County victory margin of 450,000 votes—more than 10% of Chicago’s 1960 population of 3.55 million—thus barely overcoming the heavy Republican vote in the rest of Illinois. Earl Mazo, a reporter for the pro-Nixon New York Herald Tribune, investigated the voting in Chicago and claimed to have discovered sufficient evidence of vote fraud to prove that the state was stolen for Kennedy. – Wikipedia
This was as exciting as any Bourne movie!
I came back in 1964 thinking excitement was an integral part of elections. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Barry Goldwater took only six states. Johnson won in a romp. It was over early.
There’s something about the finality of elections that attract me still. There are few other things in life that have such well defined conclusions.
No matter what the result I’ll be watching the numbers tonight. There might not be as much excitement as 1960 but there will be a whole lot more data to sift through.
¹ – One of the big issues of the 1960 election was the conflict between Mainland China and Taiwan over the islands Quemoy and Matsu and how the U.S. would respond. Please don’t ask how I remember… I just do. As far as I know this conflict has not been resolved fifty years later!