Presidential Primaries, 1960

January 6, 1960

Report Outline
Primaries in the 1960 Presidential, Race
Primaries and the National Conventions
Primary Campaigning and Opinion Polls
Special Focus

Primaries in the 1960 Presidential, Race

Restriction of Primary Battles to Democrates

Democrats will have the presidential primaries, to be held this year in 17 states and the District of Columbia, very largely to themselves. Announcement the day after Christmas of Gov. Nelson A, Rockefeller's decision to keep out of presidential politics in 1960 left Vice President Richard M. Nixon without apparent opposition for the Republican nomination. Aspirants for the Democratic nomination are numerous enough to stir up lively battles in some of the primary states, although tests of strength among that party's leading contenders may be prevented in other primary states by “No trespassing” signs posted by favorite-son candidates.

Despite the prospect that primary results will not determine the Democratic nomination, party regulars and the public will examine them keenly for indications, however tentative, of voter sentiment toward the various candidates. Experience has shown that success in presidential primaries is of only uncertain aid in nailing down the nomination. On the other hand, failure in primary polls, especially in states regarded as politically strategic, may completely destroy a candidate's chances. Thus these contests, conceived early in the century as a method of giving the people a direct voice in selection of presidential nominees, have worked in practice to perform mainly the negative function of weeding out weak candidates.

Differences in Primaries in Different States

Three fewer presidential primaries will be held this year than in 1956—Alaska, Minnesota and Montana having repealed their primary laws and gone back to the convention method of selecting delegates to the national conventions. Voters in the states where primaries are scheduled for 1960 will elect delegates to the national conventions. In nine of those states and in the District of Columbia the elected delegates may be pledged to a particular presidential candidate, and in nine of the states (including some in the first group) the voters may indicate their presidential preference directly. New York and Alabama are the only primary states in which there is neither a direct presidential preference vote nor any pledging of delegates.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Jan. 31, 2020  Presidential Primaries
Nov. 16, 2018  The Presidency
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Mar. 06, 2015  Presidential Power
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Aug. 08, 2008  Political Conventions
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Jul. 10, 1987  Presidential Nomination Process
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Apr. 09, 1976  Presidential Campaign Coverage
Feb. 23, 1972  Political Conventions
May 27, 1964  Foreign Policy Issues in Election Campaigns
Sep. 21, 1960  Voting in 1960
Jan. 06, 1960  Presidential Primaries, 1960
Jan. 04, 1956  Campaign Smearing
Nov. 30, 1955  Presidential Possibilities, 1956
May 09, 1952  Open Conventions
Jan. 16, 1952  Presidential Primaries, 1952
Oct. 12, 1949  Modernization of the Presidential Election
Jan. 14, 1948  Presidential Primaries
May 01, 1944  Foreign Policy in National Elections
Jan. 01, 1944  Choice of Candidates for the Presidency
Apr. 08, 1940  Republican Candidates for the Presidency, 1940
Apr. 01, 1940  Democratic Candidates for the Presidency, 1940
Jun. 19, 1939  Selection of Nominees for the Presidency
Aug. 19, 1938  Nomination by Primary
Mar. 11, 1936  Voting in Presidential Elections
Feb. 18, 1936  Presidential Candidates, 1936
Mar. 03, 1932  Decline of the Presidential Primary
Aug. 25, 1931  Presidential Candidates, 1932
May 05, 1928  National Nominating Conventions
Sep. 03, 1927  Presidential Candidates—1928
Jun. 14, 1927  Patronage Influence in Nominating Conventions
Sep. 11, 1926  The Future of the Direct Primary
Jul. 02, 1924  Proposed Reforms of Presidential Nominating Methods
Jun. 04, 1924  The Machinery of the Political Conventions
Mar. 15, 1924  Presidential Candidates and the Issues
Sep. 05, 1923  The Passing of the Second Term
Campaigns and Elections
Powers and History of the Presidency