The Election of 1960

Democrat John F. Kennedy campaigned for the presidency in 1960 on the pledge to "get the country moving again." His opponent, Republican Richard Nixon, believed that the country was better off continuing the policies established under Dwight Eisenhower's eight years of leadership.

The following positions were compiled from official party platforms. Shortly after the site launched in 2000, we asked our users to vote on these positions. Below are the results from this poll.

International Relations

As the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union wore on, opinions varied as to whether and how America should exert a leadership role in the world.
Candidate/Party 1 -- Contends that "American prestige is at an all-time high," thanks to the efforts of the Eisenhower administration.
Candidate/Party 2 -- Citing a loss of prestige, declares that America needed a more activist and imaginative approach to international affairs.





The Economy

The nation was experiencing an economic recession as the 1950s came to an end. Strategies about how to best stimulate the economy sparked debate.
Candidate/Party 1 -- Urges economic growth through a combination of private enterprise and individual initiative.
Candidate/Party 2 -- Calls for increased government intervention to stimulate the economy.





Defense Spending

Much attention was paid to what constituted adequate military preparedness during the Cold War. While there was general agreement that the U.S. should match the Soviets' military strength, opinions as to how best to accomplish this task varied.
Candidate/Party 1 -- Asserts that the U.S. has maintained military standing with the Soviet Union, and that military spending should be watched carefully for excess.
Candidate/Party 2 -- Argues that a "missile gap" favoring the Soviet Union makes an increase in defense spending necessary.





Here are the actual results of the election of 1960:

  Popular Votes % Electoral Votes
Kennedy [D] 34,227,000 49.7 303
Nixon [R] 34,109,000 49.5 219

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