WI: RFK vs Nixon in 1972?

A fairly simple one, RFK lives but goes on to lose the nomination against Humphrey. Nixon wins in 1968 and everything carries on roughly OTL. Now many say RFK would have sat out 1972 and waited for 1976. I consider this unrealistic for a fairly simple reason, no-one else sat out 1972. Early in primary season Nixon didn't look remotely as safe as we in hindsight know him to be, and Kennedy would have smelled blood and gone in. I think its reasonably safe to say he would have sewn up the primaries, given Ted Kennedy led several polls without even putting his name in the ring I can't see Bobby having any problems.
Now how does the race go? Kennedy will have far greater party unity than McGovern and he won't be remotely as easy to pigeonhole as the "Amnesty, Abortion and Acid" candidate. Nixon however was in a very strong position in the election, and had his own party behind him 100%. The wild card is Nixon will be absolutely terrified to lose to another Kennedy, and CREEP may well be going into overdrive to sabotage the Kennedy campaign. If that house of cards comes publicly tumbling down it could blow a hole in the Nixon campaign.
I think absent Nixon's shady activities being blown open Nixon wins a narrow but definite re-election. Thoughts?
 
Kennedy isn't winning the south outside of maybe West Virginia and I think Nixon wins what was at the time the Republican west. Parts of what is now the Rust Belt and parts of the North East are what would decide the election. My guess is, unless as you suggest an overdrive CREEP getting out before election day, Nixon wins a narrow but clear re election.
 
Kennedy isn't winning the south outside of maybe West Virginia and I think Nixon wins what was at the time the Republican west. Parts of what is now the Rust Belt and parts of the North East are what would decide the election. My guess is, unless as you suggest an overdrive CREEP getting out before election day, Nixon wins a narrow but clear re election.
This.

But I could really see CREEP getting caught doing something really, really stupid, and causing Nixon falling from a 5 point victory to a 15 point loss. RFK would be a pretty seasoned candidate with a solid resume in this scenario.
 
If Bobby runs in 72, he will do a bit better. He does well in southern New England and New York, and is competitive in the northeast, but isn’t winning every state there. I feel like I’m the rest of the country sans the west coast he struggles. He does motivate the Hispanic base in Texas, California and the Southwest, but I don’t see him carrying any states outside the northeast except maybe Washington or Oregon. The Midwest will be competitive but I think Nixon has an edge.

However, Kennedy might be able to use watergate as a way to challenge Ford in 76 and might win but he probably loses to Reagan in 80.
 
If Bobby runs in 72, he will do a bit better. He does well in southern New England and New York, and is competitive in the northeast, but isn’t winning every state there. I feel like I’m the rest of the country sans the west coast he struggles. He does motivate the Hispanic base in Texas, California and the Southwest, but I don’t see him carrying any states outside the northeast except maybe Washington or Oregon. The Midwest will be competitive but I think Nixon has an edge.

However, Kennedy might be able to use watergate as a way to challenge Ford in 76 and might win but he probably loses to Reagan in 80.
1980 was not unwinnable with the right narrative for the incumbent IMO. Carter's personal fuck ups sealed the deal somewhat.
 
1980 was not unwinnable with the right narrative for the incumbent IMO. Carter's personal fuck ups sealed the deal somewhat.
This. Carter was just really ill equipped for the challenges of the 1977-1981 term. He made too many tactical errors that snowballed into strategic failures that destroyed his Presidency. A more seasoned politician, and President would not have made the mistakes that Carter made as a Candidate and President.
 
Kennedy beats Nixon, hands down.

Nixon vs McGovern was wacky af. A real ruthless ghoul against a lightweight. (Sorry, McGovern stans. He seemed like a nice enough man.)
It's like if the Democrats had nominated Lincoln Chafee to run against Trump.

Kennedy vs Nixon though, is like Obama vs. Trump--Kennedy minimizes Nixon's pros and maximizes his cons. It's the worst possible matchup for a man like Nixon. Not only could Kennedy's rhetorical gifts make Nixon look like the petty and ridiculous psychopath that he was, but Kennedy could--and would--fight dirty.

Especially if Kennedy has survived an assassination attempt (assuming his politics stay the same), Nixon's warmongering looks shabby and paranoid by comparison.

Kennedy in 10, by TKO.
 
Reagan would be trying to win a fourth term for the Republicans after a decade of humiliation for them, a disadvantage a Democrat who walked in in '77 wouldn't share.
True. Never thought of it that way. I figure Reagan would bungle Iran or get into a war with them and Reaganomics wouldn’t work to well in the economic climate of the late 70s.
 
If Bobby runs in 72, he will do a bit better. He does well in southern New England and New York, and is competitive in the northeast, but isn’t winning every state there. I feel like I’m the rest of the country sans the west coast he struggles. He does motivate the Hispanic base in Texas, California and the Southwest, but I don’t see him carrying any states outside the northeast except maybe Washington or Oregon. The Midwest will be competitive but I think Nixon has an edge.

However, Kennedy might be able to use watergate as a way to challenge Ford in 76 and might win but he probably loses to Reagan in 80.
Weren't Nixon and Bobby both ruthless operators? I believe that Nixon would have won in 1972 but by a much lesser margin Bobby in 1976 - more competent than Carter.
 
Kennedy beats Nixon, hands down.

Nixon vs McGovern was wacky af. A real ruthless ghoul against a lightweight. (Sorry, McGovern stans. He seemed like a nice enough man.)
It's like if the Democrats had nominated Lincoln Chafee to run against Trump.

Kennedy vs Nixon though, is like Obama vs. Trump--Kennedy minimizes Nixon's pros and maximizes his cons. It's the worst possible matchup for a man like Nixon. Not only could Kennedy's rhetorical gifts make Nixon look like the petty and ridiculous psychopath that he was, but Kennedy could--and would--fight dirty.

Especially if Kennedy has survived an assassination attempt (assuming his politics stay the same), Nixon's warmongering looks shabby and paranoid by comparison.

Kennedy in 10, by TKO.
I'm...doubtful. Oratorical skill would most definitely help Kennedy win the Democratic primaries, but that would have happened regardless; a Humphrey defeat in 1968 would have made him frontrunner from the start. Furthermore, it's not enough to answer the fact that Nixon consistently had an approval rating above 50% for the entirety of 1972, or the fact that Kennedy would have serious trouble taking the South, outside perhaps West Virginia. JFK had enough trouble as it is, and that was before Vietnam/counterculture definitively destroyed the New Deal coalition. His appeal would be stronger in cities in the Midwest and Northeast compared to McGovern, but that's not enough to get him over the top. I don't doubt that RFK would do better than McGovern -- really, any Democratic candidate would, and I think he would take RI, CT, NY, PA, WV, and capture the Democratic base -- but it wouldn't be enough to win the battle against a popular incumbent as what happened OTL.

As for Nixon's warmongering, yes, Kennedy might look better in comparison, but also keep in mind that by and large, his conduct in the war wasn't unpopular at the time. In 1970, for instance, 65% of Americans approved of his handling [1] (interestingly, 55% of Americans approved of Bush's handling of the Iraq War in 2004, even though it is thoroughly criticized today). While that probably decreased by 1972 given things like the Pentagon Papers being released, by and large most people didn't dislike Nixon's foreign policy.

RFK's best chance would probably have been in 1976, where I could see him doing considerably worse in the South than Carter but also doing better in the North.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/1970/01/29/archives/65-in-poll-support-nixon-policy-on-vietnam.html.
 
I'm...doubtful. Oratorical skill would most definitely help Kennedy win the Democratic primaries, but that would have happened regardless; a Humphrey defeat in 1968 would have made him frontrunner from the start. Furthermore, it's not enough to answer the fact that Nixon consistently had an approval rating above 50% for the entirety of 1972, or the fact that Kennedy would have serious trouble taking the South, outside perhaps West Virginia. JFK had enough trouble as it is, and that was before Vietnam/counterculture definitively destroyed the New Deal coalition. His appeal would be stronger in cities in the Midwest and Northeast compared to McGovern, but that's not enough to get him over the top. I don't doubt that RFK would do better than McGovern -- really, any Democratic candidate would, and I think he would take RI, CT, NY, PA, WV, and capture the Democratic base -- but it wouldn't be enough to win the battle against a popular incumbent as what happened OTL.

As for Nixon's warmongering, yes, Kennedy might look better in comparison, but also keep in mind that by and large, his conduct in the war wasn't unpopular at the time. In 1970, for instance, 65% of Americans approved of his handling [1] (interestingly, 55% of Americans approved of Bush's handling of the Iraq War in 2004, even though it is thoroughly criticized today). While that probably decreased by 1972 given things like the Pentagon Papers being released, by and large most people didn't dislike Nixon's foreign policy.

RFK's best chance would probably have been in 1976, where I could see him doing considerably worse in the South than Carter but also doing better in the North.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/1970/01/29/archives/65-in-poll-support-nixon-policy-on-vietnam.html.
I don't disagree. I'm really skeptical that RFK runs in 1972. And I think RFK should have remained out of the primaries in 1968, or should have accepted the Anti War movements proposal to form a Stop Johnson movement in 1967. Not that he couldn't win the nomination in OTL 1968, but his chances weren't great given the split between him and McCarthy and of course Humphrey being well on his way to the nomination with Johnson's help. Now if RFK had survived the attempt on his life and was able to keep campaigning, that's another story. And I agree with Jeff Greenfield's take on that scenario.

So I agree that RFK's best chance would have been 1976, especially if he sat out in 1972 after failing to win the nomination in 1968, or sitting out that contest all together.

 
I don't disagree. I'm really skeptical that RFK runs in 1972. And I think RFK should have remained out of the primaries in 1968, or should have accepted the Anti War movements proposal to form a Stop Johnson movement in 1967. Not that he couldn't win the nomination in OTL 1968, but his chances weren't great given the split between him and McCarthy and of course Humphrey being well on his way to the nomination with Johnson's help. Now if RFK had survived the attempt on his life and was able to keep campaigning, that's another story. And I agree with Jeff Greenfield's take on that scenario.

So I agree that RFK's best chance would have been 1976, especially if he sat out in 1972 after failing to win the nomination in 1968, or sitting out that contest all together.

That is kind of the point of this thread though, there really isn't a reason for RFK to sit out 1972. From his perspective in 1971 Nixon looks beatable, this would be around the same time Muskie was polling ahead of him. Nixon's position in 1972 and afterwards looked a lot stronger but that's hindsight that RFK wouldn't have.
 
I'm...doubtful. Oratorical skill would most definitely help Kennedy win the Democratic primaries, but that would have happened regardless; a Humphrey defeat in 1968 would have made him frontrunner from the start. Furthermore, it's not enough to answer the fact that Nixon consistently had an approval rating above 50% for the entirety of 1972, or the fact that Kennedy would have serious trouble taking the South, outside perhaps West Virginia. JFK had enough trouble as it is, and that was before Vietnam/counterculture definitively destroyed the New Deal coalition. His appeal would be stronger in cities in the Midwest and Northeast compared to McGovern, but that's not enough to get him over the top. I don't doubt that RFK would do better than McGovern -- really, any Democratic candidate would, and I think he would take RI, CT, NY, PA, WV, and capture the Democratic base -- but it wouldn't be enough to win the battle against a popular incumbent as what happened OTL.

As for Nixon's warmongering, yes, Kennedy might look better in comparison, but also keep in mind that by and large, his conduct in the war wasn't unpopular at the time. In 1970, for instance, 65% of Americans approved of his handling [1] (interestingly, 55% of Americans approved of Bush's handling of the Iraq War in 2004, even though it is thoroughly criticized today). While that probably decreased by 1972 given things like the Pentagon Papers being released, by and large most people didn't dislike Nixon's foreign policy.

RFK's best chance would probably have been in 1976, where I could see him doing considerably worse in the South than Carter but also doing better in the North.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/1970/01/29/archives/65-in-poll-support-nixon-policy-on-vietnam.html.

Thing is, you're talking about OTL Nixon post 1968. You're talking about the US OTL, post 1968.

This ATL is a very different place.

Four years with Bobby Kennedy as a foil--an eloquent, courageous, good looking foil--constantly critiquing everything Nixon does, and Nixon's going to go full Nixon. He's going to act more unstable, he's going to make more mistakes, commit more crimes, foreign and domestic, and Kennedy's going to be there for every second of it. And of course, Wallace would stay in the race. He wouldn't be able to help himself.

Styles makes fights, and Nixon can't beat Kennedy.

Just like how Frazier could bang with Ali for 15 rounds, but couldn't last three against Foreman--Bobby Kennedy is all wrong for Richard Nixon.

It would be a competitive race, but Kennedy would win convincingly.
 
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Four years with Bobby Kennedy as a foil--an eloquent, courageous, good looking foil--constantly critiquing everything Nixon does, and Nixon's going to go full Nixon. He's going to act more unstable, he's going to make more mistakes, commit more crimes, foreign and domestic, and Kennedy's going to be there for every second of it.
What exactly is the rationale behind Nixon committing more crimes because RFK is alive? Nixon was a lot of things but he wasn’t insane. And if, as you say, he has to deal with an RFK constantly critiquing everything he does, why wouldn’t he dismiss it as partisan banter? Nixon doesn’t need to get RFK to like him.
 
Thing is, you're talking about OTL Nixon post 1968. You're talking about the US OTL, post 1968.

This ATL is a very different place.

Four years with Bobby Kennedy as a foil--an eloquent, courageous, good looking foil--constantly critiquing everything Nixon does, and Nixon's going to go full Nixon. He's going to act more unstable, he's going to make more mistakes, commit more crimes, foreign and domestic, and Kennedy's going to be there for every second of it. And of course, Wallace would stay in the race. He wouldn't be able to help himself.

Styles makes fights, and Nixon can't beat Kennedy.

Just like how Frazier could bang with Ali for 15 rounds, but couldn't last three against Foreman--Bobby Kennedy is all wrong for Richard Nixon.

It would be a competitive race, but Kennedy would win convincingly.
Regardless of whether Nixon really would make more mistakes, no incumbent since the Great Depression that presided over a relatively strong economy has been defeated in his re-election bid (the only exception is LBJ, and for obvious reasons). Unless RFK living would make 1972 as bad as 1968 or make 1972 a recession year, Nixon still starts from a strong position. I don't doubt Nixon would be more paranoid against Bobby than he would McGovern, but a decisive loss would require him to not only make a Watergate-esque mistake, but also for that to be exposed in the way Watergate was prior to November.

As for RFK being eloquent and courageous, yes, there's no doubt he was a strong candidate. There was a still a large amount of sympathy for him and his family, and Nixon wouldn't be able to make the aggressive attacks on RFK that he did on McGovern (it would be difficult to identify the Catholic brother of a fallen President with amnesty, abortion, and acid). I'm doubtful the political atmosphere would shift so much simply because RFK lives. RFK also has two problems: a) social issues and b) a divided party. I'm not sure RFK would be able to address issues like busing and amnesty in a way that would both appease both anti-busing white voters and the New Left that had increasingly become a strong part of the party. RFK was also disliked by Southerners and distrusted by the New Left, and I think Nixon would sweep the South much the way that he did OTL.
 
Regardless of whether Nixon really would make more mistakes, no incumbent since the Great Depression that presided over a relatively strong economy has been defeated in his re-election bid (the only exception is LBJ, and for obvious reasons).

But the economy in the early 70s wasn't that great. It wasn't nearly as bad as it would be later, but unemployment spiked to 6% in 1970, and hung out there until mid 1972. There was a brief recession in 70, and the price of oil is already on the way up.

On the whole though, it's a strong point, and I think the closest analog to Nixon in this ALT is Trump in 2020.

Unless RFK living would make 1972 as bad as 1968 or make 1972 a recession year, Nixon still starts from a strong position. I don't doubt Nixon would be more paranoid against Bobby than he would McGovern, but a decisive loss would require him to not only make a Watergate-esque mistake, but also for that to be exposed in the way Watergate was prior to November.

Uh, Operation Menu?

I think Nixon would sweep the South much the way that he did OTL.

I doubt it, because of Wallace. Wallace knows that Kennedy is a much stronger candidate than McGovern, so he'll want to run as a spoiler in order to throw the election to the House. Rather than Nixon sweeping the South, I think that the South splits between Kennedy, Wallace, and Nixon.
 
But the economy in the early 70s wasn't that great. It wasn't nearly as bad as it would be later, but unemployment spiked to 6% in 1970, and hung out there until mid 1972. There was a brief recession in 70, and the price of oil is already on the way up.

On the whole though, it's a strong point, and I think the closest analog to Nixon in this ALT is Trump in 2020.
That was before the election, but by election, the economy was booming again [1].
Uh, Operation Menu?
Operation Menu didn't become known to the public in December 1972, a month after the election. Why would this change?
I doubt it, because of Wallace. Wallace knows that Kennedy is a much stronger candidate than McGovern, so he'll want to run as a spoiler in order to throw the election to the House. Rather than Nixon sweeping the South, I think that the South splits between Kennedy, Wallace, and Nixon.
Wallace not running had nothing to do with McGovern -- he wanted the Democratic nomination in 1972, hence why he went through the primaries, and stayed in the primaries even after he was shot. He could have run third-party had he wanted to; he chose not to. For whatever reason, he didn't want to run as an independent in 1972. Furthermore, even if he wins, I have a hard time of him doing well outside of Missouri. Humphrey in 1968 won only one state in the South, Texas, where he benefitted off the fact that he was LBJ's VP.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/1972/07/02/...alfway-into-election-year-experts-debate.html
 
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