The Road to the 1972 Presidential Election
By David Arredondo,
Lorain, Ohio, January 2, 2012
Sometime after the 1st of the year 1972, forty years ago, this 21 year-old headed back to Oxford, Ohio to finish my senior year at Miami University where I was (surprise) a politics major. Little did I know what would be in store for me that year, 1972, and how much of what happened would shape my life forever.
At the time I shared a basement apartment with two other guys in the home of my Poly Sci advisor, Dr. Hugh Clark, his wife, and two kids. Within hours of returning to my apartment, I had a knock on my door with Hugh asking if I had a moment to speak with him to which I replied that I did. I wondered if I had done something wrong because he seemed to be rather serious in his approach.
David Arredondo (right) with his brother, Joel, in the family home in Lorain, Christmas, 1971.
The question he posed was this: “Have you signed on as a convention delegate with any presidential candidate thus far?” My immediate response was: “I’m waiting to hear from the Muskie people about being a delegate.”
“Well, don’t worry, you won’t,” Hugh replied. “Here, sign this petition to be a [George] McGovern delegate.” McGovern? I thought, that guy’s polling in single digits. I’ll never get to be a convention delegate backing him.
Hugh explained to me how the Democrats had changed the delegate selection process following the fiasco of 1968 and that now all candidates would have to have a broad representation of the electorate as convention delegates.
Given this requirement, I would give the delegate slate the following: youth, college student, and a Mexican-American. Others on the slate would be a black woman in addition to two other women, a male professor and a male minister. [I was elected a McGovern delegate from Butler County, 8th district, in May 1972.]
McGovern’s strategy to win the nomination would be a far-left, anti-war, anti-establishment strategy that would win against a splintered moderate, centrist, Democratic field of Maine Senator Edmund Muskie and former Vice President Hubert Humphrey. The first primary in the nation, New Hampshire, was a little more than a month away.
In those years, no one had ever heard of such a thing as an Iowa caucus and it would only be four years later that they would play a major role in launching the candidacy of one obscure Democratic candidate named Jimmy Carter.
Tomorrow, the Iowa Caucuses will hold center stage in American politics as some 120,000 Republican voters will help shape the fortunes of the six candidates currently running for President in 2012: Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum.
In the scheme of things, the winner tomorrow will not matter greatly. One week ago, Ron Paul held the polling lead followed by Mitt Romney, Newt, Perry, Santorum and Bachmann.
Today, some polls show Romney and Paul in a dead heat followed by Santorum. Either of these three could win. Regardless of the outcome, it’s highly unlikely to change the outcome of next Tuesday’s primary in New Hampshire which has Romney in front by a big margin. From there it is on to South Carolina and then Florida the end of the month.
February will see a number of primaries and caucuses leading up to Super Tuesday, March 6. In the past, the nomination would be sewed up by Super Tuesday but not this year due to the fact that after the 2008 election, Republicans changed the rules of delegate selection from “winner-take-all,” to percentage of the vote.
Thus through April, all candidates will win a percentage of delegates based on their vote percentage and precluding anyone from wrapping up the nomination at least until April when it then changes to “winner-take-all.”
After tomorrow, Romney may be the odds-on favorite but Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich and perhaps Rick Santorum will still make a race of it for awhile longer.