Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson had taken office after the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963. He had successfully calmed a panicked nation and placed civil rights at the centre of his agenda, overseeing the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. Barry M. Goldwater was the Republican candidate running against Johnson, a deeply conservative anti-communist who had voted against the Civil Rights Act; he was an unpopular choice for many of the moderate Republicans within the party. In the background, in addition to civil rights issues, was the Vietnam War and the nuclear arms-race. The Democrats played upon Johnson’s pro-peace, moderate-minded image, implying Goldwater was a possible nuclear sympathizer. Furthermore, they strengthened their position with the famous and controversial television advert featuring a little girl whose daisy-petal counting turns into the countdown to a nuclear explosion. Johnson won one of the biggest landslide victories in US election history.
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