When President Lyndon Johnson decided not to run for reelection in March of 1968, the United States was very divided, but they were united around the fact that they didn’t like Lyndon Johnson as their President. His approval rating was somewhere in the 30s and America was a very divided country. Between the establishment and I guess Culture Revolutionaries that were tired of being told how to live and be and what it was like to be an American. And wanted to live their own lives the way they wanted to. Whether the conservative establishment was happy with their choices or not.
And of course we were divided as a country over Vietnam, the civil right movement, crime was high, riots everywhere, the Federal Government getting much bigger with the Great Society. And America was looking for a change and had President Johnson ran for reelection, he would’ve definitely had a primary challenger. Senator Gene McCarthy had already announced he was running for President. And Senator Bobby Kennedy was considering running for President. Both Democrats and LBJ might have won the Democratic Nomination.
But there’s no guarantee of that and even if that did happen he would’ve ended up leading a divided Democratic Party, which is what Vice President Hubert Humphrey ended up doing. Going up against a united Republican Party around Richard Nixon. Starving for a big win and a path back to power after being out of the White House and being the minority in Congress for the last eight years.
With Vietnam, high crime and the riots, LBJ lost the ability to lead a country that was divided. And looking for someone else to be their President and he made the right decision both politically. But for the country as well and gave Americans an opportunity to look for someone else to be their President. And take the country in a different direction, which is exactly what they got in Dick Nixon.