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Q: 1960 presidential election ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: 1960 presidential election
Category: Relationships and Society > Politics
Asked by: bugbear-ga
List Price: $22.00
Posted: 07 Nov 2004 20:38 PST
Expires: 07 Dec 2004 20:38 PST
Question ID: 425967
I once read in a quite serious history book that Kennedy
would have lost the 1960 election but for massive vote 
fraud by the Daley machine in Chicago.  Do a majority of
historians believe this?
Subject: Re: 1960 presidential election
Answered By: pinkfreud-ga on 07 Nov 2004 22:15 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
There is no unanimity of opinion on this matter. Although some
reputable historians and political scientists do not subscribe to the
"Nixon was robbed" theory, the legend lives on. There are claims that
"most historians" or "most experts" support both sides of the issue.
I've gathered some material from online sources; predictably, the
viewpoints disagree.

"The GOP's failure to prove fraud doesn't mean, of course, that the
election was clean. That question remains unsolved and unsolvable. But
what's typically left out of the legend is that multiple election
boards saw no reason to overturn the results. Neither did state or
federal judges. Neither did an Illinois special prosecutor in 1961.
And neither have academic inquiries into the Illinois case (both a
1961 study by three University of Chicago professors and more recent
research by political scientist Edmund Kallina concluded that whatever
fraud existed wasn't substantial enough to alter the election).

On the other hand, some fraud clearly occurred in Cook County. At
least three people were sent to jail for election-related crimes, and
677 others were indicted before being acquitted by Judge John M.
Karns, a Daley crony. Many of the allegations involved practices that
wouldn't be detected by a recount, leading the conservative Chicago
Tribune, among others, to conclude that 'once an election has been
stolen in Cook County, it stays stolen.' What's more, according to
journalist Seymour Hersh, a former Justice Department prosecutor who
heard tapes of FBI wiretaps from the period believed that Illinois was
rightfully Nixon's. Hersh also has written that J. Edgar Hoover
believed Nixon actually won the presidency but in deciding to follow
normal procedures and refer the FBI's findings to the attorney general
- as of Jan. 20, 1961, Robert F. Kennedy - he effectively buried the

Slate: Was Nixon Robbed?

"The only serious study of these charges is Edmund Kallina's excellent
Courthouse Over White House: Chicago and the Presidential Election of
1960, although despite the subtitle Kallina focuses more on local
politics than on the presidential race. Nixon writes about the issue
in both of his memoirs, Six Crises and RN. Earl Mazo and Stephen Hess
endorse the stolen-election idea in Richard Nixon: A Personal and
Political Portrait. Biographies that add original contributions are
Herbert Parmet's Richard Nixon and His America and Fawn Brodie's
Richard Nixon: The Shaping of His Character. Other accounts, which
have a conspiratorial bent and should be taken with a grain of salt,
appear in Seymour Hersh's The Dark Side of Camelot, Patrick Mahoney's
Sons and Brothers, and Anthony Summers's Arrogance of Power: The
Secret World of Richard Nixon."

Slate: Sidebar

"Kennedy won the general election, narrowly defeating the Republican
candidate, Vice President Richard M. Nixon, by a margin of less than
120,000 out of some 70,000,000 votes cast. Many observers, then and
since, believed vote fraud contributed to Kennedy's victory,
especially in the critical state of Illinois, where Joe Kennedy
enlisted the help of the ever-powerful Richard J. Daley, mayor of

Encyclopedia Brittanica: Kennedy, John F.

"On Election night 1960, nobody knew at midnight if Kennedy or Nixon
won, and when Kennedy remarked that he had it made, his father, Joe
Kennedy, told him he still had time to change his mind -- not all the
votes were counted yet in Cook County, Illinois. Gangster Sam Giancana
was telling Judith Campbell, also referring to Cook County, that he
had elected her boyfriend. Chicago's Mayor Daley also claimed credit
for electing Kennedy.

Kennedy's close win over Nixon in 1960 has long been a bone of
contention, and books have been written proving that Kennedy stole the
election, or had the election stolen for him by his and his father's
mob connections plus Lyndon Johnson's connections. Other prominent
historians have ridiculed the idea and disputed the evidence of

Mount Nixon: The Great Kennedy Disaster 

"Note that the assertion that Nixon won more votes than Kennedy in
1960 does not rely on some kind of correction to vote totals to
account for how much fraud might have exaggerated the proper
Democratic vote totals in Illinois and/or Texas. ... A large part of
the vote cast in Alabama in 1960 is routinely assigned to Kennedy in
text and reference books, even though these votes were cast for
electors who were unambiguously not supporters of the Senator from
Massachusetts. ...

For instance, Longley and [Peirce] traced the origin of the commonly
reported 1960 popular vote results at some length in their recently
published critique of the electoral college [The Electoral College
Primer 1996, by Lawrence Longley and Neal Peirce]... The more often
people hear it repeated that Kennedy narrowly won, the more credence
they seem to lend this claim, even in the rare cases in which they
know that flawed logic underlies the usually reported vote totals. ...
Many pages later, however, he proposes that the obvious and perhaps
fairest way to aggregate national vote totals made Nixon the winner of
the popular vote."

Everything Politics: Electoral Vote Directory

"There is no certainty that Nixon won both Texas and Illinois [which
he would have had to to do win the Electoral College vote]. What is
certain, however, is that massive voter fraud on Kennedy's behalf
occurred in both states. In Texas, Kennedy's margin of victory was
46,000 votes, but Lyndon Johnson's Lone Star state political machine
could easily have provided that number. In Illinois, Kennedy won by a
bare 9,000 votes, and Mayor Daley, who held back Chicago's vote until
late in the evening, provided an extraordinary Cook County margin of
victory of 450,000 votes. No thorough investigation of the massive
irregularities was ever conducted, and partisans of Kennedy and Nixon
still debate the bottom line."

(From "If It's Not Close They Can't Cheat," by Hugh Hewitt, pages 60-61)

LeanLeft: Reviews Archives 

"The Bush campaign proclaims the [2000] election is theirs, that Al
Gore is a poor sport because he will not concede. Bob Dole, former
presidential candidate, speaking for the Republicans, tells network
viewers that everyone knows that Illinois is crooked, that Mayor
Richard Daley, William Daley's father {Bill Daley is chairman of the
Gore campaign}, stole the election for John F. Kennedy in 1960. Dole
uses unpleasant and shocking words like 'crooks' and 'steal.' In fact,
most historians agree that whatever irregularity might have gone on in
Chicago for Kennedy during the 1960 election, the distortion in
downstate Illinois, which was solidly for Nixon, would have offset

Syracuse New Times: The numbers game in Florida proves that the
Democratic process still works

Google search strategy:

Google Web Search: kennedy nixon vote fraud daley

Thanks for an interesting question. If anything is unclear or
incomplete, please request clarification, and I'll get back to you as
soon as I can.

Best regards,
bugbear-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00
excellent again

Subject: Re: 1960 presidential election
From: pinkfreud-ga on 14 Nov 2004 19:30 PST
Many thanks for the kind words, the five stars, and the nice tip! I
found this research project very enjoyable, since I am old enough to
remember the 1960 presidential election. I was twelve at the time. My
parents, a couple of liberal Democrats, were happy as the proverbial
clams with the JFK victory. But jokes about dead people having voted
in Chicago began almost immediately.


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