How to Lose a Presidential Election in the 20th Century

Presidential Election
Associated Press, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Unlike previous presidential election campaigns, the 1960s saw a new tool introduced to the campaign trail, the television. It would be this new political weapon that would see Kennedy go on to win a narrow victory, with many pointing to the infamous TV debate where Kennedy wore makeup and looked calm, composed, and confident. Whereas his opponent looks nervous and sweaty, little did Nixon know that someone from the Kennedy had turned up the heat in the studio, making him look tense and uncomfortable.

Before the televised debate, Kennedy was slightly behind in the polls and after the debate moved ahead of his Republican rival. However, it is still debated to this day the real impact that debate had on the voting public with many pointing to the fact that people who listened to the debate on the radio believed that Nixon was the one who came out on top. Sadly, his lack of preparation for his television appearance likely cost his crucial votes.

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