One of the longest peacetime sessions of Congress has obscured the importance of the upcoming elections that are now a mere six weeks away. Even the electoral extravaganzas in New York, California and Massachusetts have managed to take over the newspaper headlines on only a few occasions.
Nelson Rockefeller’s re-election as Governor of New York has been accepted by most as a sure thing, in spite of some polls that suggest the opposite. The widespread interest in New York has centered mainly on how large the Governor’s margin will be. Will it be big enough to make his Presidential nomination in 1964 a near certainty?
In California, Nixon’s fight for his political life has drawn more than local attention. The greatest newspaper space, however, has been devoted to the Senatorial battle in Massachusetts between the Kennedys and the McCormacks. The battle and its outcome may have implications for 1962 races in other States.
The campaigns elsewhere have received coverage on the day of the primaries and been dropped from view. Alabama, which was reapportioned by a Federal court, made the inside pages of the metropolitan press. Georgia was worth a single front-page story when the Democratic citizens of that state, voting without a county-unit system for the first time in 50 years, nominated a moderate rather than a racial extremist for Governor. The Republican primary in New Hampshire also rated a day on the front page.
Beyond these stories, remarkably little has been written about the 1962 elections, in spite of President Kennedy’s frequent argument that he needs to have the already large Democratic Congressional majorities increased still further. His opponents, meanwhile, have countered with the claim that he has failed as a leader in domestic affairs and provided little to be proud of in the foreign field. The Administration’s program and the President’s leadership are certainly the major issues of this year’s campaigns.
Early in the spring, many observers felt that the Democrats would add to their Congressional margins. Today, most of these same observers are not quite so sure. Polls show that the country is still three-to-two Democratic, just as it has been since 1936. At the same time, the polls have shown a decline in the President’s popularity. Still open is the question whether Republican spokesmen can convince enough independents and doubtful Democrats of the soundness of their position to make inroads in the normal Democratic majority among the nation’s voters.
The 1962 campaign has not made many headlines thus far, but we can reasonably expect it to dominate the front pages from now until November 6.