The 1988 Presidential Election in the South: Continuity Amidst Change in Southern Party Politics

By Laurence W. Moreland; Robert P. Steed et al. | Go to book overview

12
Texas: Toward an Ideological Politics

DENNIS S. IPPOLITO


INTRODUCTION

During the 1950s, the Democratic party's grip on the "solid South" began to weaken, with one of the most prominent defecting states being Texas. The Republican national ticket carried Texas in 1952 and again in 1956. In 1960, Democratic presidential nominee Senator John F. Kennedy attempted to revive his party's electoral prospects in Texas by selecting Senator Lyndon B. Johnson as his vice presidential running mate. Under a unique Texas law that he had persuaded the Texas legislature to pass, Johnson was able to run a dual campaign for re-election to the Senate and election as Vice President.

Kennedy's strategy was successful, if barely so. The Kennedy-Johnson ticket carried Texas by slightly more than 45,000 votes out of the 2.3 million cast. Johnson's Senate campaign was, as expected, victorious as well, although Johnson was held to less than 60 percent of the vote by a young and relatively unknown Republican challenger, John G. Tower. (In an unexpected postscript, Tower managed to win a special election for Johnson's vacated seat the following year. Republicans have kept it ever since.)

In 1988, Michael S. Dukakis replayed the Kennedy strategy, choosing Texas Senator Lloyd Bentsen as his vice presidential candidate. The Democratic party, as in 1960, was coming off two successive losses in Texas to a popular Republican president. The Republican presidential candidate in 1988, as in 1960, was the

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