The Presidential Campaign That Changed American Politics: 1A: NPR

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US Democratic politician George McGovern (1922-2012) receives an enthusiastic welcome from his supporters during his campaign tour on the day of the New York State primary, June 20, 1972.

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US Democratic politician George McGovern (1922-2012) receives an enthusiastic welcome from his supporters during his campaign tour on the day of the New York State primary, June 20, 1972.

Keystone/Getty Images

Some political historians believe that the roots of our presidential nomination process and much of the polarization of our politics can be traced to a presidential campaign 50 years ago.

In 1972, Democratic Senator George McGovern ran for president. Although he had little experience on Capitol Hill, McGovern secured the Democratic nomination.

McGovern would lose the presidential election to Republican Richard Nixon, who won over 60% of the vote and 49 states. McGovern’s campaign is often seen as a cautionary tale for candidates going too far to the extreme, some analysts comparing him to Bernie Sanders.

The podcast “People” takes a closer look at the 1972 presidential campaign. It examines how party realignment and changes to our primary system continue to impact our politics today.

Ben Bradford and Barbara Norrander join us for the conversation.

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