1964: Presidential Primaries at Dartmouth College

  • Nelson A. Rockefeller '30 placed third in the primary behind write-in candidate Ambassador to Vietnam Henry Cabot Lodge and Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater.

The 1964 New Hampshire primary brought New York Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller ’30 back to his alma mater to campaign. Rockefeller, a centrist, reflected the GOP of past generations. Supporters of the stridently conservative Sen. Barry Goldwater of Arizona were later the nucleus of the Reagan Revolution. The Granite State, far closer to Rockefeller’s political base than to Goldwater’s, was of particular importance to the governor. In reality, however, establishment interests in the northeast were fond of neither candidate. Rockefeller, though a rich east-coast insider himself, had never been a darling of his fellows, and a divorce and new marriage hadn’t helped. Goldwater meanwhile was simply too conservative, with the bothersome and irremediable habit of saying what he thought. At one point, he suggested sawing off the east coast and letting it float out to sea, a quote that eventually featured in an LBJ campaign ad. (Seth Gannon, SLATE, Feb 08, 2016.)

On March 10, 1964 New Hampshire enjoyed an old-fashioned New England blizzard: up to fourteen inches of snow. The election went on, and less than an hour after polls closed, Walter Cronkite could announce CBS’s projection: Lodge (write-in) 33,000; Goldwater 20,700; Rockefeller 19,500; Nixon (write-in) 15,600.

When Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., learned that he had won the New Hampshire primary without campaigning or being on the ballot, he was nearly 9,000 miles from Concord, New Hampshire. The U.S. Ambassador to South Vietnam, Lodge was on a tour of the Vietnamese border at the time.

Rockefeller subsequently lost the Republican Party nomination to Goldwater.