The GOP’s “stolen 1960 election” myth debunked

Republicans have been lying about elections for a very long time. From Raw Story (here):

“Grab the nearest Republican and ask them, ‘How did John Kennedy win the election in 1960?’ Most will answer, ‘Mayor Daley stole the election in Chicago.’ In the modern era, that was the original sore-loser ‘voter fraud’ story, and, of course, it came out of Richard Nixon and the GOP. But, Jack Kennedy could’ve lost … Illinois and still would’ve had enough electoral votes … to become president. He didn’t need Chicago.”

Because he didn’t need Illinois. Check out the electoral map: Kennedy 303, Nixon 219. Give Illinois’ 27 electoral votes to Nixon and JFK still wins, 276 – 246. (He needed 269 to win; the numbers for JFK and Nixon don’t add up to 537 because 15 electoral votes went to Sen. Harry Byrd.) Elementary-school arithmetic says Mayor Daley couldn’t possibly have stolen the election for Kennedy, even if he stole Illinois for him in the Chicago wards. But even that was disproven:

“On top of that, Republicans insisted on, and got, two separate audits of the vote in Illinois, one immediately after the election and one in 1961 after Kennedy’s inauguration, and both showed that Kennedy won.”

But the 1960 election’s dynamics were such that many elements for myth-making were present, and Republican liars exploited them: A close overall popular vote, close results in Illinois and several other states, and a culture of dishonesty within the GOP that existed even before Nixon.

Being sore losers is another element of GOP culture, although contrary to popular assumptions, that’s not primarily about whining to make themselves feel better. It’s about setting themselves up better for future elections by using “voting fraud” myths as an excuse for voter suppression. They’ve never liked the idea of blacks and other minorities voting, and go to great lengths to suppress their votes. (A few even argue women shouldn’t be allowed to vote, either.)

This post isn’t primarily about voter suppression, so I won’t go into that here (the Raw Story article does, at length), although you can’t discuss elections without considering GOP voter suppression efforts. My aim here is to simply show the claim that Mayor Daley stole the 1960 election for Kennedy is merely another of the countless false myths perpetuated by rightwing propaganda.

Despite how incredibly easy it is to debunk this particular myth, it still persists over 60 years later. Why? Obviously because it has an audience. Endlessly repeating a lie doesn’t make it true. Are Republicans uniquely gullible, too intellectually lazy to check it out, or so lacking in morals they’re willing and eager to use lies to gain any political advantage? I’m thinking probably a combination of all these.

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