The Polls In 1960 Were Basically Accurate
On October 3rd, Nixon was leading Kennedy 161-123 in the electoral college, with the rest too close to call. An October 3rd California poll gave Nixon the edge 48% to 39%. The final result in California was 50.1% for Nixon, 49.6% for Kennedy.
On October 18 the electoral college count was Nixon 141, Kennedy 129.
On October 24 it was Nixon 93 to Kennedy 112 with 62 leaning toward Nixon and 125 leaning toward Kennedy. The same edition of the paper had Kennedy assured of big Wisconsin lead (he lost) Johnson predicting the biggest landslide since 1936 (it was the second closest election in history), and Governor Brown of California predicting Kennedy would carry the state by 1 million (he lost).
On October 30, polls showed Kennedy carrying Texas 49% to 41%. The Democrats own polls showed 43.1% to 32.8% with 24.4% uncommitted. The final result was Kennedy 50.5%, Nixon 48.5%.
On November 6th polls gave Kennedy a narrow lead in New Jersey. He carried the state 50.0% to 49.2%. It also had Kennedy ahead in Missouri, which he carried 50.3% to 49.7%. It gave Kennedy the lead in Tennessee, which he lost to Nixon. The Detroit News Poll gave Kennedy the edge 52.9% to 46.3%. On election day, Kennedy carried Michigan 50.9% to 48.8%. It had Kennedy gaining in Florida but with Nixon still ahead. Nixon carried Florida 51.5%
On November 7th, the day before the election, the polls gave Kennedy the lead in 19 states with 244 electoral votes, Nixon the lead in 16 with 109 electoral votes, and 15 states were too close to call. On Election Day, Kennedy carried 23 states with 303 electoral votes and Nixon carried 26 states with 219 electoral votes.
The Daily News Poll the day before the election had Kennedy ahead 6-5 in New York (54.54%). On Election Day, he won with 52.5%. The Des Moines Register had Nixon carrying Iowa. The Vice-President took Iowa with 56.7%.
On the day before the election, Kraft, Gallup and Princeton Research gave the edge to Kennedy. Roper gave the edge to Nixon. Mayor Daley predicted Kennedy would win in Illinois. Stratton predicted Nixon would take Illinois.
Congressman Adam Powell predicted Kennedy would carry New York with a 350,000 vote margin. The final tally was a margin of 383,666.
So, the general drift of the polls were accurate in 1960. They predicted a tight race and it was one.
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Contact: Joshua Leinsdorf