Why President Nixon’s False Election Fraud Claims Went Nowhere

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Donald Trump is not the first president to peddle false election fraud claims. Richard Nixon nursed a grudge after his 1960 loss to John F. Kennedy. Nixon believed that Kennedy and the Democrats stole the election from him. 

However, Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson’s administrations weren’t haunted by election fraud claims. No crowd of Nixon supporters stormed the US Capitol. Election fraud wasn’t a major issue for the 1962 midterms. So, why did Nixon’s bitter musings about a stolen election, which he maintained into his 80s, not result in fears of democracy’s downfall? 

First, there’s no evidence of enough fraud to flip the election in Nixon’s favor. Second, Dwight Eisenhower urged Nixon not to contest the 1960 election. 

The Close but Fair 1960 Election 

Although it was a close election, there’s no evidence that the 1960 election was stolen. Kennedy only won the popular vote by 119,450 votes, so a few more votes in key states would’ve been enough for Nixon to win instead. 

If Nixon had won Texas and Illinois, he would’ve won instead. Only around 9,000 votes made the difference in Illinois, so it was the more contentious state. The Chicago Democratic Party also had ties to organized crime, which raised suspicions about Illinois being stolen. 

However, there have never been enough fraudulent votes or voting irregularities found that would’ve won Illinois or Texas for Nixon. Despite the bad reputation of power brokers in both states, Kennedy won the closest election in the 1900s. 

Eisenhower’s Advice 

Nixon and his supporters may have believed he was owed an election, but Eisenhower didn’t. 

In his book The Arrogance of Power, Anthony Summers cites a friend of Nixon’s, Ralph de Toledano, who claimed that “[Nixon] pressed for the investigation, and it was Eisenhower who said, ‘No, it will tear the country apart.’”

Toledano went on to say that Nixon taking credit for Eisenhower’s decision was “the first time I caught Nixon in what you might call a lie.” 

Recognizing his lack of standing and support, Nixon didn’t challenge the 1960 election. As a result, there were no wild stories of voter fraud from the President. Nixon supporters never raided an election worker’s grandmother’s house to attempt a citizen’s arrest based on false fraud claims. There was no top-down effort to rally a losing candidate’s supporters around false election fraud claims. 

A New Scale of False Election Fraud Claims   

Trump’s false election fraud claims are unique among sore presidential losers. The gap between the velocity of false election tweets and the vacuum of supporting evidence is unique among modern presidents. Further, the January 6 committee has shown that Trump and his advisors pushed election lies despite knowing they were false. 

For all of his criminal activities, including undermining President Johnson’s peace talks with South Vietnam for domestic political gain, Nixon never tried to overthrow an American election.

Summers ends his section on Nixon’s decision not to challenge the 1960 election with an excerpt from an article by Margaret Halsey. She wrote that voters would develop a “selective morality” that applies a higher moral standard to “themselves and their friends” and a “much lower one for the President of the United States.” 

Halsey’s New Republic article could’ve been written in 2015 instead of 1958 and still been equally applicable to the modern criminal president. The comparison between Nixon and Trump shows how far the moral bar has fallen even for criminal presidents.    

AP Photo

About the Author

Chris Gerlacher

Christopher Gerlacher is a Lead Writer and contributor for Bonus. He is a versatile and experienced gambling writer with an impressive portfolio who has range from political and legislative pieces to sports and sports betting. He's a devout Broncos fan, for better or for worse, living in the foothills of Arvada, Colorado.

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