May 7, 1967. At the Ranch LBJ hosts what the Daily Diary describes as a “STRICTLY OFF THE RECORD MEETING: (a fundraising dinner in Texas in the near future).”  The next day, LBJ greets the public at Randolph Air Force Base before his return to Washington. 

LBJ Presidential Library photos #5314-8 and #5319-07, public domain.

November 8, 1966. Election Day. LBJ casts his vote at the Pedernales Electric Coop, Johnson City, Texas.
The campaigning in these midterm elections has been fierce: after the 1964 Demoratic sweep, the Republicans have rebounded and are focused on issues of inflation;  the costs of the Great Society programs, and those programs’ failures and disappointments; crime; racial strife and riots; a stalled Vietnam War effort, as well as its rising toll in money and lives; and the perceived ”credibility gap" of the Johnson administration on many of these issues.  
Democrats had enjoyed two years of a 295/140 majority in the House, and 67/33 majority in the Senate, and have controlled the majority of state governors and legislatures. Few Democrats expect to keep all of their contested seats: the question is how many they will lose. LBJ, for his part, was too good a student of politics to not expect a backlash against his policies—as early as February 1965 he warned his staff that their days of effective leadership were numbered. 
LBJ Presidential Library photo #3849-30a. Public domain. 

November 8, 1966. Election Day. LBJ casts his vote at the Pedernales Electric Coop, Johnson City, Texas.

The campaigning in these midterm elections has been fierce: after the 1964 Demoratic sweep, the Republicans have rebounded and are focused on issues of inflation;  the costs of the Great Society programs, and those programs’ failures and disappointments; crime; racial strife and riots; a stalled Vietnam War effort, as well as its rising toll in money and lives; and the perceived ”credibility gap" of the Johnson administration on many of these issues.  

Democrats had enjoyed two years of a 295/140 majority in the House, and 67/33 majority in the Senate, and have controlled the majority of state governors and legislatures. Few Democrats expect to keep all of their contested seats: the question is how many they will lose. LBJ, for his part, was too good a student of politics to not expect a backlash against his policies—as early as February 1965 he warned his staff that their days of effective leadership were numbered

LBJ Presidential Library photo #3849-30a. Public domain. 


President’s press conference, 11/4/1966

"QUESTION. Does the cancellation of your big campaign trip mean that you do not intend to do anything to help Democratic candidates before election, such as one little speech in Texas, or maybe a TV pep talk before election?

THE PRESIDENT. First, we don’t have any plans, so when you don’t have plans, you don’t cancel plans.

We get invited to come to most of the States. In the last 6 weeks we have been invited to 47 of the States by the candidates for Governor, or the Senate, or the Congress.

We have been invited on nonpolitical invitations to the other three States, I might say.

But we have not accepted those invitations. We do contact the local people who extend them. We do investigate in some instances going there, and we do express the hope that we can go.

But until it is firm, until we know we can, we do not say, “We accept,” and schedule it.

The people of this country ought to know that all these canceled plans primarily involve the imagination of people who phrase sentences and write columns, and have to report what they hope or what they imagine.

We have no plans for any political speeches between now and the election. We know of no requirement that we forgo them. I just don’t think they are necessary.” 

However, it had already been reported in the press that LBJ had planned a campaign trip to Massachusetts, Illinois, Nevada, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado that was now cancelled. This discrepancy was used by Republicans as an example of the ”credibility gap” in the Johnson administration. This seeming disparity between what the White House said, or promised, and what it delivered, became an effective issue for Republicans as they tried to take back—or at least win more seats in—the House and Senate. 

Source: Congress and the Nation, Vol. II 1965-1968, Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Service, 1969, p. 7. Full press conference text available here

January 1966. As Congress reconvenes for the second half of its session, most Americans have a favorable view of their legislators and of the federal government in general. According to a Harris poll, the approval rating for Congress is at 71 percent:

“‘It is evident that many of last year’s most controversial measures [including laws on immigration, voting rights, higher education, elementary and secondary education, and Medicare]  have been accepted and even become popular….In fact, Congress has impressed the people so much that it is more popular than the president—four points higher than the chief executive’s last recorded positive rating of 67 percent.’

Lyndon frequently read that poll aloud to anyone who could not escape, leaving out the paragraph comparing his popularity and that of Congress, unless, of course, he was reading the poll to a member of Congress.”

—Merle Miller, Lyndon: An Oral Biography. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1980, p. 453

Nov. 4, 1964. After having spoken earlier in the night to a victorious Robert Kennedy, LBJ now talks with Edward Kennedy—to congratulate him on election to his first full term as Senator from Massachusetts. Kennedy’s first speech in the Senate was in favor of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, last summer. 

Nov. 4, 1964. After having spoken earlier in the night to a victorious Robert Kennedy, LBJ now talks with Edward Kennedy—to congratulate him on election to his first full term as Senator from Massachusetts. Kennedy’s first speech in the Senate was in favor of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, last summer

Nov. 3, 1964. Bill Moyers gets a call from a very tired LBJ—who then waits on hold for 30 seconds—about today’s election results. The returns are looking good, Moyers says, and turnout has been heavy. He also reports on his visit to Walter Jenkins. 
LBJ ends up winning in a landslide, 61.1% to 38.5%. 

Nov. 3, 1964. Bill Moyers gets a call from a very tired LBJ—who then waits on hold for 30 seconds—about today’s election results. The returns are looking good, Moyers says, and turnout has been heavy. He also reports on his visit to Walter Jenkins

LBJ ends up winning in a landslide, 61.1% to 38.5%. 

October 30, 1964 Presidential Campaign rally, probably in Chicago. 
LBJ Library photo 433-169-WH64. Public domain. 

October 30, 1964 Presidential Campaign rally, probably in Chicago. 

LBJ Library photo 433-169-WH64. Public domain. 

October 27, 1964. A week before the election, Ronald Reagan gives a televised campaign speech for Barry Goldwater:
“You and I have a rendezvous with destiny.
"We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.
"We will keep in mind and remember that Barry Goldwater has faith in us. He has faith that you and I have the ability and the dignity and the right to make our own decisions and determine our own destiny.” 
Photo: The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. 

October 27, 1964. A week before the election, Ronald Reagan gives a televised campaign speech for Barry Goldwater:

“You and I have a rendezvous with destiny.

"We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.

"We will keep in mind and remember that Barry Goldwater has faith in us. He has faith that you and I have the ability and the dignity and the right to make our own decisions and determine our own destiny.” 

Photo: The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

October 6, 1964. Lady Bird sets out on her three-day Whistlestop campaign tour of the south, aboard the Lady Bird Special. 

October 6, 1964. Lady Bird sets out on her three-day Whistlestop campaign tour of the south, aboard the Lady Bird Special. 

September 26, 1960.    The first Kennedy-Nixon TV debate, on domestic policies, draws an audience of estimated 73.5 million people. For the first time, television is an important element in presidential campaigns.
Photo by Neal Douglass. University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Austin, Texas.

September 26, 1960.    The first Kennedy-Nixon TV debate, on domestic policies, draws an audience of estimated 73.5 million people. For the first time, television is an important element in presidential campaigns.

Photo by Neal Douglass. University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Austin, Texas.

September 1960 - Running mates Kennedy and Johnson campaign in Austin, Texas, surrounded by supporters.  The Texas State Capitol is visible in the background.
LBJ Library photo 60-9-178. Photo by Frank Muto. This image may be used free of charge as long as credit is given to the source. 

September 1960 - Running mates Kennedy and Johnson campaign in Austin, Texas, surrounded by supporters.  The Texas State Capitol is visible in the background.

LBJ Library photo 60-9-178. Photo by Frank Muto. This image may be used free of charge as long as credit is given to the source. 

July 8, 1960. The Johnsons and staff fly to Los Angeles this morning for the Democratic National Convention. LBJ goes to see candidate Hubert Humphrey at his hotel with friend and campaign aide John Connally.The next day LBJ says, “It’s all over with. It is going to be Kennedy by a landslide.”
Above: JFK arrives at the convention, July 9 1960. Via the Kennedy Library.

July 8, 1960. The Johnsons and staff fly to Los Angeles this morning for the Democratic National Convention. LBJ goes to see candidate Hubert Humphrey at his hotel with friend and campaign aide John Connally.The next day LBJ says, “It’s all over with. It is going to be Kennedy by a landslide.”

Above: JFK arrives at the convention, July 9 1960. Via the Kennedy Library.

May 22, 1960. A Newsweek survey shows that JFK has 589 delegates to the Democratic National Convention in July; LBJ—who still has not officially declared his candidacy, because he wants to remain as Senate Majority Leader for as long as possible—has 387.5.
Photograph via Kennedy Library # JFKCAMP1960-0945-014-p0043. Use Restriction Status: Undetermined

May 22, 1960. A Newsweek survey shows that JFK has 589 delegates to the Democratic National Convention in July; LBJ—who still has not officially declared his candidacy, because he wants to remain as Senate Majority Leader for as long as possible—has 387.5.

Photograph via Kennedy Library # JFKCAMP1960-0945-014-p0043. Use Restriction Status: Undetermined

1960. JFK’s campaign gains momentum. 
Photo via Kennedy Library, #JFKCAMP1960-0946-010-p0019. Use Restriction Status: Undetermined.

1960. JFK’s campaign gains momentum.

Photo via Kennedy Library, #JFKCAMP1960-0946-010-p0019. Use Restriction Status: Undetermined.