Democratic Party (United States) presidential primaries, 1960

Democratic Presidential Primaries, 1960
United States
1956 ←
→ 1964

  John F. Kennedy, White House color photo portrait.jpg 37 Lbj2 3x4.jpg
Nominee John F. Kennedy Lyndon B. Johnson
Party Democratic Democratic
Home state Massachusetts Texas
States carried 50 0

Democratic presidential candidate before election

Adlai Stevenson

Democratic presidential candidate-elect

John F. Kennedy

The 1960 Democratic presidential primaries were the selection process by which voters of the Democratic Party chose its nominee for President of the United States in the 1960 U.S. presidential election. Senator John F. Kennedy was selected as the nominee through a series of primary elections and caucuses culminating in the 1960 Democratic National Convention held from July 11 to July 15, 1960 in Los Angeles, California.


Primary race

Recalling the experience of 1928 Catholic Democratic presidential nominee Al Smith, many wondered if anti-Catholic prejudice would affect Kennedy's chances of winning the nomination and the election in November. To prove his vote-getting ability, Kennedy challenged Minnesota Senator Hubert Humphrey, a liberal, in the Wisconsin primary. Although Kennedy defeated Humphrey in Wisconsin, the fact that his margin of victory came mostly from heavily Catholic areas left many party bosses unconvinced of Kennedy's appeal to non-Catholic voters. Kennedy next faced Humphrey in the heavily Protestant state of West Virginia, where anti-Catholic bigotry was said to be widespread. Humphrey's campaign was low on money and could not compete with the well-organized, well-financed Kennedy team. Kennedy's attractive sisters and brothers combed the state looking for votes, leading Humphrey to complain that he "felt like an independent merchant running against a chain store."[1] On primary day, Kennedy crushed Humphrey with over 60% of the vote. Humphrey withdrew from the race and Kennedy had gained the victory he needed to prove to the party's bosses that a Catholic could win in a non-Catholic state. In the months leading up to the Democratic Convention Kennedy traveled around the nation persuading delegates from various states to support him. However, as the Convention opened, Kennedy was still a few dozen votes short of victory.

Although Kennedy won primaries by comfortable margin, his main opponent, Lyndon B. Johnson, who did not participate in primaries, had a very strong base in party establishment and gained many delegates. He did not join any primary, but was a write-in[2].


The following political leaders were candidates for the 1960 Democratic presidential nomination. With the exceptions of Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, Stuart Symington and Adlai Stevenson, these men were "favorite-son" candidates without any realistic chance of winning the nomination:

Candidates gallery

Potential candidates who did not run


1960 Democratic presidential primaries

States by winner

John F. Kennedy Pat Brown Hubert Humphrey George Smathers Michael DiSalle Unpledged
March 8 New Hampshire 85% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
April 5 Wisconsin 56% 0% 44% 0% 0% 0%
April 12 Illinois 65% 0% 8% 0% 0% 0%
April 19 New Jersey 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 100%
April 26 Massachusetts 92% 0% 1% 0% 0% 0%
April 26 Pennsylvania 71% 0% 4% 0% 0% 0%
May 3 Indiana 81% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
May 3 Ohio 0% 0% 0% 0% 60% 0%
May 3 Washington, D.C. 0% 0% 57% 0% 0% 0%
May 10 Nebraska 89% 0% 4% 0% 0% 0%
May 10 West Virginia 61% 0% 39% 0% 0% 0%
May 17 Maryland 70% 0% 0% 0% 0% 8%
May 20 Oregon 51% 0% 6% 0% 0% 0%
May 24 Florida 0% 0% 0% 100% 0% 0%
June 7 California 0% 67% 0% 0% 0% 0%
June 7 South Dakota 0% 0% 100% 0% 0% 0%

Total popular vote

Total number of vote in primaries:


Presidential Nomination

Presidential tally[3]:

Vice-Presidential Nomination

Johnson was nominated unanimously as Vice Presidential candidate[4], receiving all 1,521 votes.

See also

  • Republican Party (United States) presidential primaries, 1960



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