The Second Term: Confronting the Bureaucracy
NIXON approached his second term with a tightfisted and caustic public attitude sharply different from the conciliatory temper he had displayed when he entered the presidency in 1969. "This country has enough on its plate in the way of huge spending programs, social programs, throwing dollars at problems," he told Garnett Horner in an interview a few days after the 1972 election. 1 Gone was the spirit of "Bring Us Together," the theme of Nixon's first inaugural. In its place appeared the assertive truculence of "the New Majority," which Nixon believed was fed up with social change.
The president's altered mood apparently sprang in part from the massive proportions of his 1972 victory. Nixon's popular majority-- 60.7 percent--was exceeded in modern history only by those awarded to Lyndon Johnson in 1964 and Franklin Roosevelt in 1936. In the electoral college, only the votes of Massachusetts and the District of Columbia deprived him of a unanimous verdict. Among groups giving majority support to Nixon were Catholics, manual workers, trade union members, southerners, and voters under thirty. Of the major elements that had made up the New Deal coalition, only Jews and blacks remained loyal to the Democratic candidate. Lack of confidence in George McGovern clearly contributed to the size of Nixon's victory. But the president believed, probably correctly, that the vote represented at least general approval by a large majority of Americans of his administration's performance during the first term and of the more conservative direction in which he had promised to lead the country if reelected.