NBC Radio, Show No. 5, November 3, 1960
Correspondents: Merrill Mueller, Leon Pearson, Gabe Pressman, Tom Petit, Wally Pfister, Ed Arnow, Ales Dreier.
Producer: James L. Holton. Announcer: Gene Hamilton.
(Introduction: Echo background)
ANNOUNCER. The Countdown - X Minus Five.
VOICE (simulated intercom with rocket firing in background). Four, three, two, one.
(Music: Theme up and under)
ANNOUNCER. NBC News presents "Election Countdown," coast to coast, the fifth in a series of campaign progress reports from around the Nation as the 1960 presidential election day approaches. Our two anchor men in Radio Central are Merrill Mueller and Leon Pearson. Here is their roundup report, 5 days before E-day.
PEARSON. Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Elbridge Gary, of Philadelphia, this was in 1797, said: "The second office of this government [that is the Vice Presidency] is honorable and easy; the first is but a splendid misery." Well, in 1960, the contest for this "splendid misery" waxes strong, even furious, quite as if success in the contest led only to a bed of roses. No candidates for the Presidency have ever traveled so widely, spoken so often, or been seen and heard by so many millions. The result, in addition to fatigue of throat and right hand of the candidates, is a state of general involvement and excitement and information by the American public which is probably unparalleled. In our recent reports on this program, we have indicated an advantage for Senator Kennedy. Since then, the Republicans, including President Eisenhower, have stormed the walls of the key State of New York, and the computations may have been changed. We hope to see.
MUELLER. The reception they got in New York yesterday lifted the enthusiasm of both President Eisenhower and Vice President Nixon, so much so, that Nixon, upon his departure for South Carolina this morning, predicted that, if the tide continues, he will win by one of the biggest electoral college victories ever recorded.
Nixon made no qualifications, therefore, of his hope that some of Mr. Eisenhower's popularity with the voters will rub off on the present Republican candidate.
Democratic workers for Senator Kennedy have charged in a sarcastic manner that this is Nixon's only hope. These Democrats file a counterclaim that Kennedy will win by one of the greatest victories in the electoral college.
So we turn tonight to the comment of a veteran political reporter, Jack Bell, of the Associated Press, for a surprising evaluation of how much help Mr. Eisenhower proved to be for Nixon in New York. Says Jack Bell: "President Eisenhower appeared to have fallen short of delivering a knockout punch in the battle for New York's 45 electoral votes." Then Bell continues in his report to state that some GOP Nixon workers had hoped the President would attack Senator Kennedy more vigorously, and by name.
Now, for an estimate of how New York State stands tonight. Here is Gabe Pressman.
PRESSMAN. When Senator John Kennedy visited New York a couple of weeks ago, he told a pep rally of Democratic Party leaders
Whoever wins New York will be the next President of the United States.
Today, just before Vice President Nixon left New York, I asked him about Kennedy's statement. Leaning out of his car just before it pulled away from the hotel, Nixon said:
We're going to win New York, and we're going to win the election. The Kennedy campaign peaked too early. The tide is running in our favor.
Unfortunately, for reporters, there are no tide tables to forecast absolutely which way the political waters are running at any given time. The only conclusive evidence will come Tuesday. But here are the best-informed guesses as to what's in the minds of New York voters.
The first factor - and this has tremendous weight with political analysts here - is the New York Daily News poll.
The News, which has the largest circulation of any paper in America, is polling 30,000 New York voters. With all but 4,000 of these straws tabulated, the results tonight give Senator Kennedy an overwhelming lead - roughly 56 percent for him, 44 percent for Nixon.
If the News forecast is accurate, Kennedy is scoring heavily in traditionally Democratic New York City, in the larger cities upstate, among Catholic voters, and among the strong minority groups that were a mainstay of Roosevelt's New Deal, the Jewish and Negro voters.
Nixon, in this survey, draws his heaviest support from the smaller cities, suburban and rural areas. But he has failed to come near Ike's tremendous showing in these sections in 1952 and 1956.
The News poll has been wrong only twice in 19 elections, and it's being given heavy weight here.
Nixon's poor showing in this poll was largely behind the Republican blitzkrieg here yesterday when, joined by President Eisenhower, his running mate, Henry Cabot Lodge, and Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, Nixon toured the city and suburban counties.
They received a rousing reception in a ticker tape parade up Broadway. It wasn't quite as wildly enthusiastic as the parade for Senator Kennedy 2 weeks ago, but there was a lot more ticker tape, and it proved that there are a lot of Republicans, even in Democratic New York City.
Publicly, the Republicans feel yesterday's reception proves they're rolling. But, privately, some GOP leaders are not so sure.
Publicly, Lyle Hornbeck, Republican campaign chairman, puts it this way:
The political tide is obviously beginning to flow. We expect to gain a plurality of 850,000 to 1 million votes upstate. This will be enough to overcome the expected Kennedy plurality in New York City.
Privately, some Republican leaders will tell you the upstate plurality can't come near those figures - that Nixon is destined to poll far less than Ike.
Michael Prendergast, Democratic State chairman, told me today:
We're going to hold Nixon almost even upstate and we'll win the State by the plurality in New York City. I estimate that to be about 700,000.
Privately, Democratic leaders think the margin may be closer to 400,000. But, publicly or privately, they're sure of victory.
To a political reporter, that's the big difference between leaders of the two parties. The Democrats are genuinely confident.
And behind the veneer of official statements and news releases, the Republicans are either downright pessimistic or only - nervously - optimistic.
The registration figures show about 57 percent of the State's 8 million voters come from upstate. The Republicans are hoping for a big turnout from the smaller cities and rural areas.
Add to this a reporter's own observations and chats with scores of voters and the picture is this:
As of now, it appears that the Empire State's 45 electoral votes are heading for the Kennedy column.
PEARSON. Now, we turn to Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania used to be a stronghold of Republicanism. A hundred years ago there were the Camerons, Simon Cameron, followed by his son, Don, who was Secretary of War in the last months of the Grant administration. And when Simon retired from the Senate (this was 1877), he had his son appointed in his place. And power in Pennsylvania later passed to Matthew Quay and thence to Boies Penrose, Republicans. Malcolm Moos, in his history of the Republican Party, calls this "a political dynasty, not to be rivaled in the annals of American politics." But the Democratic voice in Pennsylvania is stronger today than it was then. For a report on the present prospects, we call in Tam Petit, station WRCV, in Philadelphia.
PETIT. Pennsylvanians are battle weary from the intensive campaigning in the State by "big guns" of both parties making final efforts to swing the State's 32 electoral votes. Democrats have thrown at us everyone from Kennedy to Stevenson, winding up with Harry Truman tomorrow. The Republicans have brought in Nixon, Lodge, and President Eisenhower - all in the final 2 weeks before election day. Now, this State is very close and both parties are claiming victory by at least 200,000 votes. But the Democrats are so confident, they seem almost cocky. Gov. David Lawrence, after stumping with Kennedy, said: "We'll slaughter them." Philadelphia Mayor Richardson Dilworth on a motorcade with Kennedy, literally thumbed his nose at a Republican heckler. Philadelphia Democratic Chairman William Green told Kennedy privately last weekend, that his machine can produce a 300,000-vote margin in Philadelphia, come next Tuesday. Hardly anyone, including other Democrats, can believe that. But all these are indicative of the Democrats' optimism. On the other hand, Republican leaders, while claiming the State on the basis of Nixon-Lodge appeal on foreign policy issues, admit they have a fight on their hands. Senator Hugh Scott, though, is said to have told Nixon that he, Scott, is willing to give 2-to-1 odds on Nixon, if anybody wants to bet. But those cagey characters, the Philadelphia bookmakers, give odds of 8 to 5 on Kennedy, if you want to bet that he'll carry the State and the Nation - this, despite the latest Republican poll calling the State 51 percent for Nixon, 49 percent for Kennedy. There's no question that heavy unemployment in Pennsylvania's hard coal areas and layoffs or short hours in the steel industry around Pittsburgh have hurt the Republicans. They admit it. One important Republican leader said: "When people are out of work, they're dissatisfied and tend to blame the administration in power." In 1956, when Eisenhower carried Pennsylvania by better than 600,000 votes, the Republican Party held a margin in voter registration of over 400,000. Now that's been completely eaten away by Democratic organizational work, which has produced a 3,000 lead in party registration in this State which hasn't gone Democratic in a presidential election since going for FDR in 1944. Democrats here are running Kennedy as a young FDR. They think he appeals to the young people more than Nixon; they think he has glamour. Democratic leaders in unemployment areas think Kennedy represents some sort of rescue from economic trouble.
Governor Lawrence said: "They think Kennedy's a messiah," which may have been an unfortunate Freudian slip by the Governor because it brings in a religious symbol, and, in the end, the religious question may be decisive here. Democrats are counting on a heavy Catholic vote for Kennedy. Republicans, while in no way condoning religion in the campaign, are counting on a heavy Protestant vote to run up their totals outside of the big cities, which have large Catholic populations. Democratic politicians think religion is helping them more than it's hurting them. Republican leaders think it's working both ways. Both agree the election may be decided on how many Republican Catholics vote according to their faith and how many Democratic Protestants vote according to their party. Now, our correspondents around the State report a Kennedy tide in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, Scranton, Wilkes-Barre; and Republican losses in some of the suburban counties around Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. But if the Philadelphia Democratic margin runs over 250,000, which it could, and if the religious issue does not boil up more than it has, and barring some unforeseen development in the campaign, our Pennsylvania correspondents are calling a slim Kennedy victory.
MUELLER. Pennsylvania, of course, stretches from the East to the borders of the Midwest, so, to take a look at the tight races in two of the key points in the Middle West, we start this evening with the State known as the Mother of Presidents - Ohio. A powerhouse in the electoral college, it is also typical of the farmland-industrial-metropolitan composition of the larger Midwestern States. For this report, we go to Wally Pfister in Cleveland.
PFISTER. Both parties are rolling out the heavy artillery tomorrow for a last shot at Ohio's important 25 electoral votes. President Eisenhower goes to Cleveland to speak in behalf of Nixon Friday night. At the same time, Henry Cabot Lodge will be campaigning in Canton and Akron. Senator Kennedy is protecting his interest with a speech in Toledo. Both candidates have already given this key State a thorough going over. Nixon has spent 4 days in Ohio visiting 18 cities. Senator Kennedy campaigned 5 days and reached 15 cities.
Ohio has been a prime campaign target. It is a State which could go either way. The Democrats are cautiously predicting victory. Vice President Nixon says the State is "up for grabs." Right now, predictions by newsmen and political observers lean toward a Kennedy victory because of his obvious strength in the State's large industrial areas of Cleveland, Lorain, Akron, Youngstown, and Toledo. Most important newspaper polls in the State put Kennedy ahead of Nixon. The Scripps-Howard "straw poll" shows Senator Kennedy getting 56½ percent of Ohio's votes to Vice President Nixon's 43½ percent. The reason for Kennedy's margin appears to be that he is picking up Democratic and independent votes that went to Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956. In Kennedy's total are more than 15 percent of the voters who said they cast their ballots for Eisenhower in 1956. But the pundits and pollsters are quick to make qualifications. Will Ike's campaign speech help Nixon enough to do the Vice President much good? And, will the inscrutable religious issue play a bigger part in the election than most people expect? Both questions are unanswerable. The balloting Tuesday night in Ohio will be a battle between the North against the South. The industrial North is Kennedy land, and the agricultural and non-industrial South is a Nixon stronghold. Factors favoring Kennedy are a 1958 off-year Democratic landslide, some economically depressed areas, and a record-high registration. On Nixon's side of the ledger are some solidly Republican counties and a chance that Ike may still transfer some of his popularity in the State to his Vice President. Areas that will be watched closely for early trends in the voting are Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus. Cleveland appears certain to support Kennedy, and his margin there will be an indication of his statewide strength. Cincinnati, the GOP stronghold in the days of the late Senator Robert A. Taft, switched to the Democrats in 1958, and a close race here could mean trouble for Nixon. Columbus, the State capital, also went Democratic in 1958; but it is normally considered to be a GOP area. In a State where opinions of political observers and pollsters seems to indicate a Kennedy victory right now, it is interesting to note that many people are shaking their heads and saying: "It's going to be mighty close." It could be just that.
PEARSON. Thank you, Wally Pfister. The Republican National Convention last July was held in Chicago. By comparison with the Democratic Convention in Los Angeles, it was orderly, dignified, and touched with an air of confidence. Since then, the Democrats have achieved more unity, and we want to ask the question: How is the race today in Illinois, Chicago, downstate, and overall? Here is a report on Illinois from Alex Dreier in Chicago.
DREIER. Illinois, with its 27 electoral votes, could be the bellwether for the Middle West. It has been both Democratic and Republican in the past and, in this way, typical of a number of Midwest and Eastern States. It has the large city Democratic vote in Chicago, a fairly firm Republican populace downstate, with the suburbs exhibiting political schizophrenia. Going for the Democrats is the huge Chicago area vote - not just the city, but Cook County, too. Also, a strong State ticket in Senator Paul Douglas and Judge Otto Kerner figuring to take a much weaker incumbent Governor, Bill Stratton. A strong downstate crossover to Douglas and Kerner might pull in uncounted-on votes for Kennedy. If a reported downstate reaction to Kennedy's religion develops, it might be the factor that causes some political prognosticators to believe that it could push the State to Nixon. Now, most of the polls hedge beautifully. One has Nixon in a slight lead; Kennedy gaining. Another, with a self-proclaimed record for having the most accurate poll in the Nation has Kennedy leading Nixon by a fairly comfortable margin, but Jeeps warning that the poll hasn't really hit paydirt, yet. Now, at times you get the impression that Illinois is the biggest question mark in the Nation. Nobody gives it to Nixon in a sweep.
One veteran political writer conceives of a Kennedy sweep, but wouldn't bet a sou on it. How can Kennedy win Illinois? It's out of his hands, really. The biggest stumbling block is the religious issue. If it gels, it might tip a pretty evenly divided State toward Nixon. Kennedy has the city of Chicago and a surprising amount of support in the county and even downstate. He has a powerful State ticket. He has the minority groups and organized labor. He could do it and do it big. How can Nixon take these same 27 electoral votes? Well, to do it, he must sweep much of the State outside Chicago and Cook County. He must run much stronger than his own State ticket. He probably will need the votes of downstate Republican Catholics, although their numbers are not great. At the moment, while both men privately concede that victory is not inconceivable, neither is terribly confident, and the word is out to both party machines: Illinois is on the block; take nothing for granted. On the basis of the evidence available, Kennedy can win Illinois, probably will; and it is not outside the realm of possibility that it won't be anywhere near as close as most of the prognosticators think. If any of this proves to be not so, it will merely demonstrate that we failed to assess properly the evidence at hand.
MUELLER. So we jump to the Far West, and its key State, California - key, that is, in the sense of numbers of voters and number of electoral votes.
This is the last time California - already the second largest State in the Union - votes for only 32 members of the electoral college.
Its population growth has already won seven and possibly eight new seats in Congress, with a corresponding increase in the electoral college, but these increases will not appear as congressional districts until 1962, and they cannot influence a presidential decision until 1964.
That makes the race all the more important to both parties tonight. They want control of the procedure for setting up the new districts that will make California, in the near future, the second largest State beyond doubt, pushing Pennsylvania into a sure third.
So, for the outlook tonight, we go to Ed Arnow in San Francisco.
ARNOW. California, long considered one of the key States in this presidential election, continues to remain a mystery with just days left before next Tuesday's balloting. A convincing argument can be raised by both the Kennedy and the Nixon forces on how they will take the State; but when you stack them both side by side, neither one is thoroughly convincing. Kennedy backers are enthused at the latest figures from the most reliable polltaking organization in the State - the California poll. It shows Kennedy pulling slightly away from Nixon, with Kennedy support currently running at 48 percent to Nixon's 45 percent. Seven percent were listed as undecided. But in breaking down the figures, the poll said 16 percent of both the Kennedy support and the Nixon support actually were still somewhat uncertain and might change their minds before election day. It's that 7 percent undecided and another 32 percent who bluntly tell polltakers that they still might change their minds which has both the Democrats and the Republicans mumbling to themselves. This is what's called the "silent vote" in California, and any prediction what this vote is going to do on Tuesday, is purely in the realm of guesswork. Three national magazines this week came out with their predictions about how California would vote, and it all adds up to zero again. Time and Newsweek said California is unpredictable, and U.S. News & World Report puts it shakily in the Nixon column. On Kennedy's side of the fence, there are a number of things which could tip California in his direction on Tuesday. Since the June primary, registration drives have accomplished just about all the Democrats could hope for. In a State where the ratio of Democratic to Republican registrants long has been 3 to 2, the numerical lead of the Democrats over Republicans skyrocketed to 1,369,000.
This, in itself, can be misleading in California, where voters register one way and then seem to vote as they please in the ballot booth. What is significant, though, is that, of the new registrants since June of this year (most of them since the parties picked their candidates), the Democrats came up with 212,000 more than the Republicans. Some top-ranking Democrats are quietly saying that these people could make all the difference. Since it's expected that a person registering in a party will at least vote the first time around for a candidate of that party, this gives Kennedy a flying start of more than 200,000 votes. Republicans, on the other hand, confidently feel that Nixon will take his home State in a close one for two major reasons. First, is that they are far better organized in the Los Angeles area, where 40 percent of the State vote will be cast. And, secondly, the turnout is not expected to be heavy on election day, and that, traditionally is better for the GOP in this State. The importance of California to both candidates is not being underestimated by anyone. Kennedy put in a strong bid for California's 32 electoral votes earlier this week before leaving last night for Arizona, and Nixon gets in tomorrow for a whirlwind tour of the State before flying to Alaska on Sunday. That's the way California shapes up, in the crucial week before the election.
PEARSON. Well, Ed Arnow, that seems to leave California rather unpredictable. I might say that Time magazine says the same thing. Newsweek gives an edge to Nixon in California. Our own correspondents tonight, as you have listened to them, give the preference in the other four States that we have examined to Kennedy. In other words, the score of our review tonight is: Kennedy ahead in Illinois, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania; but the situation in California - unpredictable. Time had precisely the same lineup in its edition published this week. Newsweek gave an edge to Nixon in the State of California; an edge to Nixon in the State of Illinois; Kennedy ahead in New York; Kennedy ahead, Ohio; edge for Kennedy in Pennsylvania. And so it goes. Merrill Mueller, some comments.
MUELLER. Keep in mind, also, that the figures Leon just quoted are straw polls taken 5 days or more before talkative voters finally face that moment of lonesome decision. A lot can happen in 5 days. A serious external problem could have immediate influence on many people. A serious domestic crisis could affect many more. A slip of the campaign tongue could affect some. A dramatic announcement, deliberately and perfectly timed, could affect others.
PEARSON. Well, that's the election countdown in the race for what Jefferson called the "splendid misery," the splendid misery of the White House. This is our final program; the rest is up to you. And this is Leon Pearson with Merrill Mueller, NBC News, New York.
ANNOUNCER. You have been listening to report number five of "Election Countdown," coast to coast, a continuing progress report on the 1960 presidential election campaign. On Monday, the night before election day, we will present our final report - an hour-long program which will review the issues, assess the congressional, senatorial, and gubernatorial races, and with the aid of an eminent historian, try to analyze the impact of campaigning, 1960 style, on the American political future. Our anchor men on Monday's program will be Morgan Beatty and Robert McCormick, with an assist from a well-known American, Bob Hope. That will be the final program in this series - X Minus One.
VOICE (simulated intercom with rocket firing in background). * * * Four, three, two, one.
(Music: Theme up and under)
ANNOUNCER. This has been an NBC News Department presentation, James L. Holton, producer; Gene Hamilton speaking.