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1960 United States presidential election in Massachusetts

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1960 United States presidential election in Massachusetts

← 1956 November 8, 1960 1964 →
Turnout76.9%[1] Increase 4.9 pp
John F. Kennedy, White House color photo portrait.jpg
Nominee John F. Kennedy Richard Nixon
Party Democratic Republican
Home state Massachusetts California
Running mate Lyndon B. Johnson Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.
Electoral vote 16 0
Popular vote 1,487,174 976,750
Percentage 60.22% 39.55%

Massachusetts Presidential Election Results 1960.svg
County Results

President before election

Dwight Eisenhower

Elected President

John F. Kennedy

The 1960 United States presidential election in Massachusetts took place on November 8, 1960, as part of the 1960 United States presidential election, which was held throughout all 50 states. Voters chose 16 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.

Massachusetts voted overwhelmingly for the Democratic nominee, John F. Kennedy, who was serving as the state's junior U.S. senator, over the Republican nominee, Vice President Richard Nixon of California. Kennedy ran with Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas, while Nixon's running mate was Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. of Massachusetts.

Kennedy carried his home state of Massachusetts in a landslide, taking 60.22% of the vote to Nixon's 39.55%, a Democratic victory margin of 20.67%. This made it the third most Democratic state in the nation, after Rhode Island and Georgia.

As Kennedy narrowly defeated Nixon nationally to win the presidency, Massachusetts weighed in for this election as about 21% more Democratic than the national average.

Massachusetts had been a Democratic-leaning state since 1928, when the Democratic Party had nominated the first Roman Catholic nominee for president, Al Smith. While Smith lost nationally in a landslide, partially due to anti-Catholic prejudice in much of the country, he won Massachusetts due to the massive turnout and support of the many Irish Catholics in the state. In 1960, John F. Kennedy became the second Roman Catholic presidential nominee by a major party, and again his religion became an issue in some regions of the country. However, there was little doubt that Kennedy, an Irish Catholic born in Brookline, Massachusetts, would be able to carry Massachusetts in his presidential run.

Prior to 1960, Massachusetts had been a swing state, having voted for Democrats Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman in the 1930s and 1940s, but voting for Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower in both 1952 and 1956. In 1956, Eisenhower had carried the state by 19 points. The 21-point margin by which Kennedy won the Bay State 4 years later thus represented a massive 40-point swing toward the Democrats between the 1956 and 1960 elections. Kennedy’s landslide victory in 1960 finally solidified the transformation of Massachusetts into a Democratic stronghold in the modern era. For the first time in American presidential history, in 1960, a Democrat broke 60% of the vote in Massachusetts, and thus Kennedy's 60.22% was the highest percentage of the vote any Democrat had ever received in the state up to that point.

Religion was a major dividing factor in shaping the vote in 1960. Nixon's running mate, Henry Cabot Lodge, was also from Massachusetts, and had served the state as a Republican Senator, but was a Protestant, and represented traditional Protestant Yankee Republicanism in Massachusetts. Kennedy, an Irish Catholic Democrat, represented an entirely different strain of Massachusetts politics, the emerging majority coalition of urban and ethnic immigrant voters. In 1952, Kennedy had first defeated Lodge to take the latter's U.S. Senate seat, symbolizing this new Democratic coalition's rise in the state. The residual Yankee Republicanism combined with the popularity of the Republican incumbent Eisenhower allowed Nixon to take a decent 39.55% of the vote, but by 1960, the ethnic Catholic vote held a decisive majority in Massachusetts, and turnout among Catholic voters reached record highs in 1960.

Kennedy carried 9 of the state’s 14 counties, including the most heavily populated parts of the state surrounding the large cities of Boston, Worcester, and Springfield. Nixon carried only 5 counties, 3 of them island or peninsula counties. Nixon’s most significant win was Plymouth County, which he won narrowly with 51% of the vote.

Kennedy put in an historically strong performance in the state's capital and largest city, Boston, home to many Catholics of Irish and Italian immigrant heritage. In Suffolk County, where Boston is located, Kennedy won a landslide with 74.4% of the vote to Nixon’s 25%, the first time in history that a presidential candidate had received more than 70% of the vote in the county. Kennedy was also the first Democrat to carry Norfolk County since Martin van Buren in 1836.[2]

The decisive Democratic win in 1960 would foreshadow the political direction Massachusetts would take in the years to come, as it would become one of the most Democratic states in the nation in the elections that followed. In 1964 and 1968, Democratic nominees Lyndon Johnson and Hubert Humphrey (respectively) would even outperform Kennedy, and in 1972 it would be the only state in the nation to vote for Democrat George McGovern, ultimately making it the only state that Richard Nixon never won in any of his three presidential campaigns.

The 1960 election was also the last time a candidate who declared Massachusetts as his home state won the presidency regardless of his performance in the state. The next 3 presidential nominees whose home state was Massachusetts, Michael Dukakis, John Kerry, and Mitt Romney, all lost their respective presidential bids.


1960 United States presidential election in Massachusetts[3]
Party Candidate Votes Percentage Electoral votes
Democratic John F. Kennedy 1,487,174 60.22% 16
Republican Richard Nixon 976,750 39.55% 0
Socialist Labor Eric Hass 3,892 0.16% 0
Prohibition Rutherford Decker 1,633 0.07% 0
Write-ins Write-ins 31 0.00% 0
Totals 2,469,480 100.00% 16
Voter Turnout (Voting age/Registered) 76%/91%

Results by county

County John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Richard Milhous Nixon
Various candidates
Other parties
Margin Total votes cast
# % # % # % # %
Barnstable 12,423 37.23% 20,900 62.63% 49 0.15% -8,477 -25.40% 33,372
Berkshire 42,132 60.51% 27,335 39.26% 162 0.23% 14,797 21.25% 69,629
Bristol 130,049 66.79% 64,290 33.02% 383 0.20% 65,759 33.77% 194,722
Dukes 1,282 39.01% 1,998 60.80% 6 0.18% -716 -21.79% 3,286
Essex 167,875 56.89% 126,599 42.90% 607 0.21% 41,276 13.99% 295,081
Franklin 12,282 43.85% 15,682 55.99% 47 0.17% -3,400 -12.14% 28,011
Hampden 121,061 62.46% 72,054 37.17% 713 0.37% 49,007 25.29% 193,828
Hampshire 25,667 56.92% 19,346 42.90% 83 0.18% 6,321 14.02% 45,096
Middlesex 356,130 59.01% 246,126 40.78% 1,260 0.21% 110,004 18.23% 603,516
Nantucket 698 36.37% 1,219 63.52% 2 0.10% -521 -27.15% 1,919
Norfolk 135,474 52.57% 121,744 47.24% 503 0.20% 13,730 5.33% 257,721
Plymouth 57,175 48.31% 60,977 51.52% 197 0.17% -3,802 -3.21% 118,349
Suffolk 252,823 74.44% 85,750 25.25% 1,044 0.31% 167,073 49.19% 339,617
Worcester 173,103 60.46% 112,730 39.37% 500 0.17% 60,373 21.09% 286,333
Totals 1,488,174 60.24% 976,750 39.54% 5,556 0.22% 511,424 20.70% 2,470,480

See also


  1. ^ Bicentennial Edition: Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970, part 2, p. 1072.
  2. ^ Melendez, Albert J.; The Geography of Presidential Elections in the United States, 1868-2004, p. 88 ISBN 0786422173
  3. ^ "1960 Presidential General Election Results - Massachusetts". Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections. Retrieved 2013-02-07.
This page was last edited on 27 March 2021, at 00:09
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