The United States presidential election of 1964 was the 45th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 3, 1964. Democratic candidate and incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson had come to office less than a year earlier following the assassination of his predecessor John F. Kennedy. Johnson, who had successfully associated himself with Kennedy’s popularity, won 61.1% of the popular vote, the highest won by a candidate since James Monroe’s re-election in 1820. It was the most lopsided US presidential election in terms of popular votes; and the sixth-most lopsided presidential election in the history of the United States in terms of electoral votes. No candidate for president since has equaled or surpassed Johnson’s percentage of the popular vote, and only Richard Nixon in 1972 has won by a greater popular vote margin.
The Republican candidate, Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona, suffered from a lack of support from his own party and his deeply unpopular conservative political positions. Johnson’s campaign advocated a series of anti-poverty programs collectively known as the Great Society, and successfully portrayed Goldwater as being a dangerous extremist. Johnson easily won the Presidency, carrying 44 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Goldwater’s unsuccessful bid influenced the modern conservative movement and the long-time realignment within the Republican Party, which culminated in the 1980 presidential victory of Ronald Reagan. His campaign received considerable support from former Democratic strongholds in the Deep South and was the first Republican campaign to win Georgia in a presidential election. Conversely, Johnson won Alaska for the Democrats for the first (and only) time, as well as Maine (for the first time since 1912) and Vermont (for the first time since the Democratic Party was founded). Since 1992, Vermont and Maine have rested solidly in the Democratic column for presidential elections, and Georgia has remained in the Republican presidential fold since 1996.
No post-1964 Democratic presidential candidate has been able to match or better Johnson’s performance in the electoral college (the only Republicans to do so since have been Nixon in 1972 and Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984), or Johnson’s performance in the Mountain and Midwestern regions of the United States.