BAPTISM BY FIRE
Conservatives, with the nomination secure and control of the Republican Party machinery in their hands, began their campaign for the presidency. On a platform that Goldwater believed exposed the flawed policies of his opponent Lyndon Johnson, he built up considerable support by expanding on the grassroots organizations created during the draft stage. The campaign, however, turned into a disaster. The problems that plagued Goldwater throughout his primary battles intensified after July and finally destroyed the viability of his candidacy. The conservative movement was young, with untested policies and inexperienced personnel who often worked against, instead of with, one another. As a result, they failed to counter the negative image of themselves created by the liberals of both parties. Despite the problems they experienced, conservatives saw the 1964 campaign as an important learning experience and the beginning, rather than the end, of their domination of the Republican Party.
The power shift within the GOP mirrored the vast changes taking place in American society. Even as the Republicans crowned their new standard- bearers, racial rioting exploded in parts of New York and New Jersey.