Fifty years ago today (June 5, 1968), U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California. Kennedy had just won the California primary, and some believe he was on his way to winning the Democratic presidential nomination.
The assassination took place five years after his brother, President John F. Kennedy, had been assassinated. It was one of many events that made 1968 a particularly tumultuous year.
Earlier Numbers of the Day looked at the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Tet Offensive in Vietnam.
In March of that year, President Lyndon B. Johnson announced he would not seek re-election.
In 1968, only 13 states had primaries, and most convention delegates were free to vote as they saw fit. At the time Kennedy was shot, he trailed Vice President Hubert Humphrey in the delegate count. However, given that the majority of delegates were unpledged, it was at least theoretically possible for Kennedy to win over some Humphrey delegates.
Humphrey eventually won the nomination but lost the general election to Richard Nixon.
In August 1968, the Democratic National Convention sparked riots and violence between police and tens of thousands of activists. Following that debacle, the party established a commission to reform the presidential nomination process. The McGovern-Fraser Commission created the system we know today where just about all delegates are selected directly by voters and pledged to a particular candidate.
Sen. George McGovern oversaw the creation of this new approach and then used it to win the Democratic nomination in 1972.
Each weekday, Scott Rasmussen’s Number of the Day explores interesting and newsworthy topics at the intersection of culture, politics, and technology. Columns published on Ballotpedia reflect the views of the author.
Scott Rasmussen is founder and president of the Rasmussen Media Group. He is the author of "Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement Is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System," "In Search of Self-Governance," and "The People’s Money: How Voters Will Balance the Budget and Eliminate the Federal Debt." Read more reports from Scott Rasmussen — Click Here Now.
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