Richard Nixon photo

Exchange With Reporters on Election Day.

November 03, 1970

Q. Would you have any comment on the elections today, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Only that I hope that the voters get out all across the country in large numbers. We have heard a great deal in the country about this group and that group trying to speak for the American people. Now is the chance for the American people to speak for themselves. But they can only speak for themselves if a great number get out.

So, this is the day for the majority to speak, whatever the majority is.

The only reports I have had from the East indicate that there is snow in some of the Midwestern States. You probably have heard that. There is snow in Illinois and Minnesota, of course, and also Ohio. I hope that the weather doesn't hold down the vote, because we want a big vote. We want this to be a majority vote and not a vote by those that simply have some special cause to vote for.

Q. Mr. President, you had a famous prediction in '66. Would you have one for us this morning?

THE PRESIDENT. In '66, I was out a great deal, as you know. In fact, I was out for 2 months of campaigning. This year, while we have gone to 22 States, as you know, I did it in the space of, actually, 8 days of campaigning, 3 of which were on Saturday.

Consequently, in such a fast-paced campaign, without the chance to stop at each place and talk to the leaders, to get the feel, I don't think an individual can make a professional prediction.

As a matter of fact, I think one of the reasons that predictions have been so bad lately in American politics, and also in British politics, is that there is a tendency for somebody to go in for 24 hours and say, "That is the way people are going to vote."

The reason my '66 predictions were pretty good was that I really knew the country. I got a feel of the country, a feel of the men and the people in State after State and city after city, and then I made the prediction about 2 weeks before, and it was on the nose. I was lucky, too.

If you remember, I predicted 40 Congressmen, three Senators, six (Governors, and 550 State legislators, and it was right on the nose.

This year I think we will do better than the general off year party.

As you know, the off year tradition is that the party in power that has the Presidency loses Senators, Congressmen, and Governors. We will do better than that. How much better will depend on what has happened.

But I won't make a prediction on the numbers at this time.

Incidentally, that is rather a subtle suggestion to all the members of the press, the pollsters, and all the rest, that before making predictions, it is very important to go into the State or the city or the area, and get a real feel of the people. Because, your first impression, the impression from a rally, the impression from just seeing somebody here or there, may give you a superficial view; whereas, in this case, there are major issues that seem to be the issues, and then maybe other issues underneath.

An individual really can't predict very effectively unless he gets in there and gets it in depth.

Now, that doesn't mean that those that have made the rather substantial predictions for our candidates not doing well are going to be all proved to be wrong. I am only going to suggest, however, that if they got in, they might find out something different.

Note: The President spoke at 8:00 a.m. at the San Clemente Fire House, San Clemente, Calif. Preceding his remarks he thanked firemen who had extinguished a minor blaze at the President's residence in San Clemente on October 29, 1970.

The transcript of a news briefing on the 1970 elections by Robert H. Finch, Counsellor to the President, Herbert G. Klein, Director of Communications for the Executive Branch, and Ronald L. Ziegler, Press Secretary to the President, was released on the same day.

Richard Nixon, Exchange With Reporters on Election Day. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under





Simple Search of Our Archives