Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type

Open Access Thesis



First Advisor

Patricia Sullivan


This thesis will analyze the political campaigns of President Richard Nixon and Senator George McGovern in the Southeastern United States during the 1972 presidential election. Both candidates’ political careers up to the 1972 presidential election, which informed their actions and the actions of their campaigns, will also be analyzed to determine how these impacted their political decisions. Nixon’s career as Vice President, his comeback after his losses in 1960 and 1962, and his first term as President all taught lessons that culminated in a campaign that earned him one of the most dramatic landslides in American political history. Senator McGovern’s political activism as a graduate student, his work in the Kennedy administration, and his outspoken anti-war politics contributed to the tenor of his campaign. Studying McGovern’s rhetoric and looking past the Democratic Primaries of 1972 offers a look into not only a divided political party but also a divided nation, each trying to discern what their identity would be in the decades to come. Both campaigns also reveal how the South was changing almost a decade after the end of segregation changed the political landscape so dramatically.


© 2023, Thomas Clayton Strebeck