President Elect 1988 - Megathread


The 1960 Democratic National Convention would be a victory for Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson on the second ballot. Johnson would select Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy as his running mate. McCarthy had given a stirring speech for Adlai Stevenson's campaign, and his Catholicism would please Kennedy supporters. Unfortunately, Johnson would be killed by postal worker Richard Paul Pavlick while campaigning in Illinois with a dynamite-filled car. Pavlick had attempted to kill McCarthy, but the Minnesota Senator had traveled in a separate automobile.

President Nixon (taking office after Eisenhower's stroke in 1957) would win a first ballot victory. To bring excitement to the ticket, he selected Michigan Congressman Gerald Ford, a moderate defense hawk. Meanwhile, McCarthy scrambled to find a new running mate, eventually settling on Al Gore, a Tennesse Senator and moderate Southerner. A. Willis Robinson also ran on the States' Rights Democratic ticket.

Polls showed President Nixon with a small lead over McCarthy, as a result of the good economic conditions. However, McCarthy put his all in the last few weeks of the campaign, making Nixon's lead go down by four points. The campaign of Robinson would also fade, with even Alabama going for McCarthy.That would show on election night, where McCarthy had a lead in both the electoral and popular vote. Nixon managed to make a last minute resurgence, but at 3:31 am, West Virginia would be called for McCarthy, giving him over 269 electoral votes. But when Nevada (the closest state) was called at 5:01, it became clear that Nixon had won the popular vote. This would be a difficult four years for McCarthy.


Senator Eugene Joseph McCarthy (D-MN)/Senator Alber Arnold Gore (D-TN): 287 EVs, 47%
President Richard Milhous Nixon (R-CA)/Congressman Gerald Rudolph Ford (R-MI): 250 EVs, 48%
Senator Absalom Willis Robinson (D-VA)/Senator Joseph Lister Hill (D-AL): 0 EVs, 5%

1953-1957: Dwight D. Eisenhower/Richard M. Nixon (Republican)
1952: Adlai Stevenson II/John Sparkman (Democrat)
1956: Adlai Stevenson II/Estes Kufaver (Democrat)

1957-1961: Richard M. Nixon/Vacant (Republican)
1961-Present: Eugene McCarthy/Al Gore (Democrat)
1960: Eugene McCarthy (replacing Lyndon B. Johnson)/Al Gore (replacing Eugene McCarthy) (Democrat), Richard M. Nixon/Gerald R. Ford (Republican), A. Willis Robinson/J. Lister Hill (States' Rights)

President McCarthy looked vulnerable due to the Soybean Scandal of 1963, along with his popular vote loss in 1960. Former President Richard Nixon had almost no opposition for the Republican nomination, picking the elder conservative Leonard B. Jordan as his running mate. Nixon was tied with McCarthy, but a poorly run campaign combined with Nixon's lack of charisma accompanied by limited financial backing caused McCarthy to pull ahead. Nixon's campaign was harmed by a story about a break-in at the DNC headquarters, but Nixon was found not guilty just weeks after the election. McCarthy would end up winning by a margin comparable to Eisenhower in 1956.


President Eugene Joseph Beck McCarthy (D-MN)/Vice President Albert Arnold Gore (D-TN): 453 EVs, 54%
Former President Richard Milhous Nixon (R-CA)/Governor Leonard B. Jordan (R-ID): 85 EVs, 45%

1953-1957: Dwight D. Eisenhower/Richard M. Nixon (Republican)
1952: Adlai Stevenson II/John Sparkman (Democrat)
1956: Adlai Stevenson II/Estes Kufaver (Democrat)
1957-1961: Richard M. Nixon/Vacant (Republican)
1961-Present: Eugene McCarthy/Al Gore (Democrat)
1960: Eugene McCarthy (replacing Lyndon B. Johnson)/Al Gore (replacing Eugene McCarthy (Democrat), Richard M. Nixon/Gerald R. Ford (Republican), A. Willis Robinson/J. Lister Hill (States' Rights)
1964: Richard M. Nixon/Leonard B. Jordan (Republican)
Yes I killed Richard Nixon off (again!) as impetus for an alternate history scenario. Sue me.

A Single Red Rose Part I

The sudden death of Richard Nixon less than a day after his nomination as the Republican presidential nominee came as a great shock both to the party and the nation. But while his family mourned and the party apparatus flailed, nobody felt the political consequences of the former Vice President's death more keenly than his newly selected running mate Gerald Ford.

Ford had not possessed any burning desire to become Nixon's running mate. Indeed he had had accepted the Californian's offer more out of a sense of duty than anything else. He liked Nixon just fine, and was certainly a capable enough politician to operate at the executive level, but his dream had always been to become Speaker of the House rather than the co-master of the West Wing. Finding himself now in effective control of the GOP's presidential hopes for the year 1960 was nerve-wracking.

The Democrats had no such problems. Their own candidate, Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, had survived a brutal primary match with fellow Senator John F. Kennedy and promptly selected him as his running mate. The Democratic ticket looked young, fresh and ready to make mincemeat out of the scattered Republicans...once the mourning period was over of course.

Ford, though he held grave doubts over the structural integrity of the ticket and indeed the party without the presence of Nixon (who seemed to act as a curious sort of salve keeping the Rockefeller and Goldwater wings from savaging each other at will) soldiered on. As no constitutional mechanism yet existed for a President to select a new Vice President (and Ford did not want to govern as a lone executive in the event he won the presidential election) he, in conjunction with the party chairs, pulled an unusual move in calling the delegates together once more to select a second running mate...Ford now effectively becoming the Republican nominee.

This move, while unorthodox and criticized as ghoulish and opportunistic by some, was met with little more than muted resignation by the rank and file delegates, who understood the necessity of the grim task.

Ford was promptly faced with a tough choice of just who to pick not only to keep the ticket competitive but also to prevent a party fracture as bad or worse than 1912. Barry Goldwater of Arizona was still threatening to engage in all out revolt in the name of unbridled conservatism, while Nelson Rockefeller indicated that he'd be inclined to do much the same thing if Goldwater were to get his way on anything at all.

Both men naturally wanted very badly to become Ford's running mate.

Other choices sprang out as well. These were men that Ford, as a relative outsider to the strange and horrible world of national electoral politics, had no real connections to. Prescott Bush promised to deliver the Northeast, Walter Judd said he could undercut Humphrey in Minnesota...on and on the offers and promises and naked bids for power came as the clock ticked down and the delegates assembled. Soon Ford would have to pick...

He went over the selections, friends, the party chairs and his wife Betty by his side. He said that Everett Dirksen seemed like the best choice, but worried that choosing him would leave Rockefeller's people out in the cold.

Betty then chimed in. Suggested that the best strategy might be to surprise everyone. Her finger landed on a lonely name way down at the bottom of the list of potentials. A name nobody had brought up even once.

"Really?" Someone asked, alarmed.

"Why not?" Betty asked back.

Ford considered. And the more he considered it, the more he thought that perhaps this could work.

The delegates didn't know just what to think when Gerald Ford, flanked by Betty and a certain Northeastern lawmaker, presented his pick.

The Goldwater loyalists were scandalized, Rockefeller's people simply confused. The rank and file delegates watched in muted shock as Senator Margaret Chase Smith of Maine took the stage and laid out, simply and pleasantly, just why they ought to pick her to help Ford continue Eisenhower's legacy.

A last minute endorsement phone call from the President himself, piped into the intercoms overlaying the convention hall, seemed to add some movement to the shock. Still confused, but stirred by both Chase Smith's and Eisenhower's words, the delegates voted in a million different directions for a hundred separate candidates, but in the end enough of them voted for the Senator from Maine to elevate her to the ticket.

The convention closed, the cloudy fug of shock slowly dissipating as the country got a good look at just who Gerald Ford had picked to run alongside him.

Margaret Chase Smith was calm, well spoken and utterly unafraid to call out behavior that she saw as unfair or unAmerican. She spoke knowledgeably on national security and military issues that many men were surprised to hear a woman hold any sort of authority on. And she galvanized women wherever she went, inspiring shock, horror and glee in equal measures with each campaign appearance she made.

PETTYCOAT RULE? Fretted the headline of one paper. Chase Smith had it hung up in her Senate office.

Humphrey and Kennedy made no fuss over Chase Smith's gender, and indeed congratulated the Republican ticket on the boundaries it had broken, just as Ford and Chase Smith congratulated their Democratic opponents for breaking religious barriers with Humphrey's selection of Kennedy. Indeed the whole campaign was pleasant and calm, even as the nation roiled in barely contained shock all the way up to November.

The polls indicated a virtual tie, and the initial results reflected the same conclusion. Maine came in reliably Republican, with elevated turnout pushing the Republican share of the vote over 60%. Michigan and Ohio did much the same thing, cheers ringing through Ford's campaign headquarters as Michigan went Republican 55%-45%, perfectly matching the turnout achieved in both of Eisenhower's landslides.

All the same the suspense didn't die down, anxious staffers, friends and elected officials watching as Humphrey claimed New York, Pennsylvania and California. Soon only a handful of states held the result of the election in doubt. Chief among them was Texas, a traditionally Democratic place that had been wavering ever since the selection of Hubert Humphrey and John F. Kennedy, two decidedly non-southern figures that not even Lyndon Johnson, king of the state Democratic party, could get his people very fired up for.

Finally, sometime after midnight, Texas fell by a margin of perhaps two percentage points, sealing in a third consecutive Republican victory. Ford and Chase Smith had risen above the tragedy and terrible uncertainty of Nixon's untimely demise to secure one of the greatest comeback victories in American political history.

Said a newspaper headline the next morning, ink practically singing with enthusiastic glee: PETTYCOAT RULE!

Rep. Gerald Ford/Sen. Margaret Chase Smith - 290 EV 51.5% PV
Sen. Hubert Humphrey/Sen. John F. Kennedy - 247 EV 48.5% PV

Screen Shot 2017-10-20 at 4.10.19 AM.png
Last edited:
A Single Red Rose Part II

Newly elected, Gerald Ford entered the White House in January of 1961 determined to make things better for the American people. He brought with him a decidedly moderate cabinet and the first female Vice President in American history. The arrangement between Ford and Chase Smith was soon characterized as an effective co-presidency, with the Vice President gaining effective control over military and national defense issues. Ford himself was happy to steer domestic and economic issues. Many noted that while Ford was now the most powerful man in the world, he acted no differently than he had as congressman. He prided himself on his modesty and professed that his presidency was to be one of negotiation and reconciliation.

Indeed he met extensively with the Goldwater faction of the party and assured them that anti-communist measures would be pursued ceaselessly throughout his term. While Goldwater himself was displeased by Ford's affinity for a new Civil Rights Act, and indeed much of his economic platform, he signaled to his people that there would be time in the future for intra-party saber rattling. What was needed now was unity.

Among Ford's most well received achievements was a tax reduction that significantly lowered the rates on nearly every American. Ford reasoned that since the Great Depression was long over and a vast Second World War style military no longer needed to be financed, it was time to relax American taxation standards and return some of the people's money back to them. This, along with his genial nature and a surprisingly adept grip on foreign events (helped along by Vice President Chase Smith) ensured that Ford ended his first hundred days in office with an approval rating that touched 70% in most polls.

But though the economy was good and the Ford administration regarded warmly by most Americans, there was trouble brewing both at home and abroad. This showed itself in the very broadest sense when the Soviet Union, in April of 1961, succeeded in sending cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin around the earth before returning him safely to Russia. This achievement frightened both the American people and military establishment, who warned Ford that if the Soviets could replicate this feat consistently then they'd soon have cosmonauts on the moon and intercontinental ballistic missiles lurking in orbit.

Vice President Chase Smith, herself an early supporter of the space program, proved invaluable in guiding congressional efforts to fund and shape America's own space agency NASA. They'd soon send a man, Alan Shepard, into space but would not be able to match the Soviet feat of orbiting the earth until the tail end of 1961, when John Glenn went around the earth three times in the Friendship 7 capsule.

Other problems of a more terrestrial variety surfaced as well, when Ford found himself running into significant trouble with regards to both writing and passing a new Civil Rights Act. Support existed within his own party, but many Democrats were lukewarm, and Senate Majority Leader Johnson indicated that he'd likely pocket the bill if it was more substantive than the existing 1957 bill.

Ford, recognizing Johnson's legislative ability and knowing that he would not be able to pass a bill without him, went to the Texan in person and made the case for the new Civil Rights Act.

Johnson, who personally sympathized with the plight of southern blacks but remained politically aloof out of fear of shattering his support amongst Southern Democrats, promised to see what he could do. The Civil Rights Act would be effectively stillborn for the remainder of Ford's term, despite the efforts of Ford, Chase Smith, Humphrey and innumerable members of both parties to try and get the act into a form where it could get past the Southern Democrats, who currently represented the biggest obstacle to the act's passage.

The island of Cuba also remained a troublesome sore spot for America, with Fidel Castro, the new leader of the island nation, accepting Soviet aid and military supplies, leading many to assume that he was now a satellite of the Soviet Union.

Ford found himself torn between a military community (and Vice President) that urged clandestine intervention to topple the Castro regime, and a diplomatic community that wished to see American influence more peacefully presented to the Cubans.

In the end Ford did both, to decidedly mixed results. Fidel Castro was successfully poisoned, only to have his brother Raul maneuvered into power. Raul, with Che Guevara in a chief advisory role, proved to be even more amenable to the Soviets than Fidel had, ignoring American diplomatic efforts entirely. Ford, realizing that he had just made things worse, reluctantly signed off on an old Eisenhower era contingency plan, authorizing American support for a landing on the beaches of Cuba by a CIA equipped army of defectors and dissidents.

The landing ended in failure and Cuba sidled firmly into the Soviet camp. But though there was talk of what might happen if the Soviets were of a mind to place nuclear tipped missiles on the island, only ninety miles from Miami, the Soviets didn't dare. They weren't especially frightened of Ford, who Khrushchev saw as a genial fool, but of Vice President Chase Smith, who the Soviet Premier once described as 'the devil in disguise of a woman'. It certainly didn't help that Chase Smith was of a mind to expand the U.S. nuclear arsenal and generally make things very difficult for the Politburo.

By the tail end of 1963 the early glow of the Ford administration had cooled slightly, but it was clear the President was still broadly popular. However, when he was questioned as to whether or not he wished to run for a second term, Ford shocked the nation by saying that he intended to go back to the House after the 1964 election. He had served as President out of a great sense of national duty, and now that stability was ensured and a qualified successor had been found, he nodded to Chase Smith at this point, he wished nothing more than to go right back to angling for the Speakership of the House.

This proclamation stunned many in the party, and most outside of it. It was one thing to have a woman a heartbeat from the presidency, one newspaperman wrote, but to have that very pulse come from a woman's chest? A step too far.

But this sentiment clearly hadn't reached President Ford, who endorsed Chase Smith over all other comers and saw her nominated at the 1964 party convention. Chase Smith, facing a simmering revolt from the Goldwater camp, promised a muscular and decidedly anti-communist foreign policy and selected Pennsylvania Governor William Scranton as her running mate. Scranton, whose selection was designed to sew up the Rust Belt, wasn't entirely agreeable to the Goldwater faction, but they agreed with enough of what Chase Smith had said not to mount an out and out revolt against her.

The Democratic party was more divided. Hubert Humphrey was still popular within the rank and file despite his close defeat in 1960, and announced that he would run again for the nomination in 1964 to much fanfare from progressives. Johnson did much the same thing, as did George Wallace of Alabama. But the race was shook up when Johnson abruptly withdrew without explanation. It would later be learned that he had suffered a minor heart attack. From then on Johnson contented himself with dominion over the Senate, though he never did stop pining over what might have been if he'd had a real shot at the presidency.

With Johnson gone and Humphrey freed up, the Minnesotan defeated Wallace handily and won the presidential nomination for a second time. This was one straw too many for Wallace and the Southern Democrats. They now saw two anti-segregation candidates arrayed against them and realized quickly that if they didn't deadlock the election and force some concessions they'd soon have a Civil Rights Act rammed down their throats.

Wallace opted to run under the old State's Rights banner, with South Carolinian Senator Strom Thurmond as his de facto running mate, though Thurmond never appeared on the trail with Wallace, or even gave the third party ticket much thought at all.

The election proved to be just as close as 1960, with Humphrey and Chase Smith dueling over economics and foreign policy. Chase Smith posed the question of just how rigorous Humphrey would be with regards to the Soviets and managed to strike a nerve. Her polling rose just a bit and though the Wallace/Thurmond ticket drained voters from both parties, Chase Smith won just enough ballots to secure both an electoral college and popular vote victory.

By a slender margin the United States had just elected its first female President.

Vice President Margaret Chase Smith/Governor William Scranton - 308 EV 45.9% PV
Senator Hubert Humphrey/Senator Henry Jackson - 201 EV 45.6% PV
Governor George Wallace/Senator Strom Thurmond - 29 EV 8.5% PV

Screen Shot 2017-10-20 at 7.08.01 PM.png
Last edited:
A Single Red Rose Part III

The election of Margaret Chase Smith had two long term implications that effected both major parties in the United States. The first came from the fact that she, more than any President elected up until that point, was determined to destroy segregation in the South, no matter the cost. Where Ford had been cautious and willing to compromise with Southern Democrats, Chase Smith went on the offensive, infuriating Dixiecrats who had backed the Wallace/Thurmond ticket in the 1964 election.

The second was that Chase Smith, more than even Eisenhower, was something of an economic liberal. She worked with the Democratic majorities to pass social welfare packages and, most notably, a brainchild of Lyndon Johnson's known at Medicare. Her help both in promoting and signing the bill when it was passed went a long way towards endearing the sometimes prickly Senate Majority Leader to her.

It also infuriated Barry Goldwater and his faction of the party, who were in a state of open rebellion against President Chase Smith by the time midterms came in 1966.

By then Chase Smith was facing the duel problems of passing Civil Rights legislation and finding a solution to the increasingly chaotic situation in Vietnam. Like Ford, Chase Smith had been sending peacekeepers to aid the embattled South Vietnamese, but the slow motion collapse of the civilian government there was only serving to undermine anti-communist efforts in that part of the world.

Faced with the prospect of a communist regime controlling the entirety of Indochina, Chase Smith made the decision to escalate American involvement in South Vietnam, bombing the North and using ground troops to both train and aid ARVN forces in their quest to defeat the VietMinh. This, though it produced an awful lot of destroyed North Vietnamese infrastructure and dead VietMinh, seemed to be having no measurable effect on shortening the duration of the war.

Civil Rights, on the other hand, was challenging in a different way. Where before there had seemed to be no realistic chance of passing a comprehensive Civil Rights Act, now Chase Smith found herself with a new ally. Senate Majority Leader Johnson had been undergoing something of a political transformation with regards to attitudes towards his fellow Southern Democrats. Their obstinance and adherence to segregation was harmful not only to the American people, but the future of the Democratic Party as well.

In early 1966, with only a few months until midterms campaigning would empty congress, Johnson made a powerful push to pass the nascent Civil Rights Act, aided by much of the leadership from both parties. Minority Leader and former President Gerald Ford rallied Republican support in the House, while Speaker McCormack did much the same with Democrats. Southerners made a grim, determined effort to block the Act's passage, but in the end Johnson's defection to the cause of liberty proved too tough to overcome. With only a few weeks to spare before elections began in earnest, the Civil Rights Act of 1966 became law.

This was followed closely by a Voting Rights Act the next year, and while there was a segregationist backlash in many Southern elections, Chase Smith felt optimistic as to the future regarding racial equality.

The growing conflict in Vietnam however served to drain whatever cheer Chase Smith felt, and though she believed quite genuinely that the fight there was necessary, the tactics being implemented by American forces there simply didn't seem to be having any real effect on the VietMinh forces lurking in the countryside. More worryingly, there were soon reports that the North Vietnamese were contributing divisions of their own troops. This prompted Chase Smith to escalate bombing of the North and even discuss a ground invasion that would reach all the way up to Hanoi...but ultimately this was decided to be politically impossible. A police action to save South Vietnam was one thing, the invasion of another nation quite another. Especially when there was a strong possibility of Chinese intervention.

Nobody wanted another Korea after all.

The war served to corrode Chase Smith's already shaky popularity, and her administration entered late 1967 with the President visibly drained by a tough term. Nobody was too surprised when the seventy year old Chase Smith announced that she would not be seeking another term. She endorsed Vice President Scranton for the job instead, and settled down to finish off her presidential duties without having to worry too much about the upcoming election. She assumed that Scranton, who was personally popular and generally well regarded, would win easily and then go to face off against Henry Jackson, who at that point was generally assumed to be the Democratic nominee in waiting, Humphrey having turned into a latter day Adlai Stevenson.

Both assumptions turned out to be terribly wrong.

Goldwater, who felt personally betrayed by the actions of Chase Smith's administration, jumped into the race, promising a return to true conservatism. His insurgent movement wasn't initially taken seriously by Scranton's campaign, and it was to their dismay that they found Goldwater sweeping the southern primaries and entering the convention with a distinct delegate advantage. Neither candidate had enough delegates to win the nomination outright, but though Chase Smith stumped for Scranton and even proposed that Goldwater could select Scranton's running mate himself, it was not enough. Goldwater managed to seize the nomination on the first ballot, by a margin of a dozen delegates. He compounded this shock by selecting William F. Buckley as his running mate. Buckley had never held elected office before, indeed the closest he had come to politics was his founding of the National Review, which he had used to champion Goldwaterite causes for the past several years.

Chase Smith was deeply alarmed by who her party had just nominated, not least because Goldwater had expressed open hostility towards the Civil Rights Act, which she regarded as her proudest presidential achievement.

Her alarm was only intensified by the events of the Democratic primaries.

Senator Henry Jackson of Washington began the race as the frontrunner. He had acquitted himself well on the campaign trail in 1964 and was quite popular with establishment Democrats, especially those who supported the conflict in Vietnam. But by the time the primaries actually began the conflict had lost a great deal of its novelty and Jackson's numbers suffered when he tried to run on his anti-communist chops, which invariably included defending his votes in favor of increased spending and troop levels for Vietnam.

Other Democrats quickly jumped into the race. Senator Eugene McCarthy promised that he'd end the war. Senator McGovern, competing for the liberal vote with McCarthy, promised to bring back the good old days of the New Deal. With the liberal vote split, George Wallace couldn't have faced a more perfectly arrayed opposition.

He'd learned from his time on the campaign trail in 1964. He was softer spoken this time and didn't overtly refer to white supremacy unless he knew he was in safe company. Instead he pointed to more abstract issues and campaigned extensively on law and order, promising to end the war quickly and with honor, to rein in the Civil Rights Movement and to crack down on street protests.

This secured him an undeniable niche and with Jackson, McCarthy, McGovern and the others entangled and divided, he managed to shoot right up the middle and seize the nomination. Johnson, Humphrey and the other old guard liberals of the Democratic Party were shocked to see Wallace now representing their presidential hopes, and fell into scheming almost immediately.

Wallace, in keeping with his 'wink-wink' approach to racial politics, selected controversial Los Angeles Mayor Sam Yorty as his running mate.

Chase Smith knew she had to do something, and quick, for no matter who won this, her legacy would be shredded and the nation placed in terrible danger.

It didn't take her long to come to the conclusion that she needed to mount a third party bid, designed to deadlock the election and prevent both Goldwater and Wallace from winning. She held no illusions of being able to win outright, her popularity didn't extend that far, but she knew that if she picked the right person to back her up then she'd have a genuine shot of throwing the election to the House.

Scranton, who was burnt out from a long and brutal primary campaign, had decided to retire from politics entirely and declined Chase Smith's offer to serve as her running mate for this venture. Indeed, most moderate to liberal Republicans seemed shell shocked and seemed inclined to stick their heads in the sand rather than fight Goldwater now that he had finally clawed his way to the nomination.

It was about then that Chase Smith received word from an unlikely person.

Of anyone in elected office, Lyndon Johnson probably had the most to lose. Both Wallace and Goldwater had indicated that they would be hostile not only towards the Civil Rights Act, but also his beloved Medicare system. He pointed out to the President that if she was to run in opposition to extremism, it would probably play better if her ticket was bipartisan.

Chase Smith agreed and took Johnson on, to the shock of everyone. An already insane election only proceeded to get crazier from there.

Debates were suspended and instead the candidates campaigned on their own behalf. Wallace pronounced Johnson a traitor and publicly decried Chase Smith as a power hungry harpy. Goldwater muttered darkly about her shrillness and though he tried hard to undercut Wallace in the South was undermined by Buckley, who publicly described the KKK as a 'bunch of kooks.'

Polling swung wildly back and forth, Wallace leading some days and Goldwater others. Chase Smith and Johnson found themselves leading in much of the Northeast and even Texas, which held a great deal of loyalty not only to Johnson but Chase Smith as well. Indeed, Johnson criss crossed the South, ignoring the advice of his doctor, who pleaded with him to slow down lest he have another heart attack. Johnson ignored him though, fueled both by the adoration of the crowds he attracted, and a pure sort of contempt for what Wallace was doing to his party.

When Election Day came both Chase Smith and Johnson cast their ballots in Dallas, hoping against hope that the state would go to them. If it did, their pollsters said, then the election would likely be deadlocked.

So it did, and so it was.

Senator Barry Goldwater/Publisher William F. Buckley Jr. - 261 EV 35.8% PV
Governor George Wallace/Mayor Sam Yorty - 233 EV 38.4% PV
President Margaret Chase Smith/Senator Lyndon B. Johnson - 44 EV 25.8% PV

Last edited:
A Single Red Rose Part IV

1968 was the first time since 1824 that an election had been thrown to the House. The country buzzed with nervous excitement and barely veiled tension. President Chase Smith, Senator Goldwater and Governor Wallace all dove headfirst into negotiations with the House. If they were to be elected President then they would need the votes of at least twenty five state delegations.

On paper Goldwater faced an uphill climb. Republicans controlled only eighteen state congressional delegations, and though another three states were split between the two parties, that still left him four delegations short of victory. Assuming he could get all of them. The divided Democratic Party, however, was sure to help him.

On the other side of the aisle, Wallace faced an equally difficult challenge. He had run as an outsider, someone free of the evils of Washington, and that was coming back to bite him now as he was forced to make peace with the political establishment and reach for the support not only of Deep South Democrats, but more liberal Northerners as well. He reminded them that if they didn't pick him then Goldwater would likely become President.

This might have worked in any other year, but for the presence of Chase Smith and Johnson. Both were self styled moderates within their own parties and urged a middle way that emphasized bipartisanship. Johnson, who had deep connections within both houses of congress, proved invaluable in rallying Texan support and ensuring that the state didn't go to Wallace. Chase Smith did her best to court moderate to liberal Republicans who were put off by Goldwater's radical conservative stylings.

By the end of November the House was ready to vote, and though Chase Smith had made a valiant effort, she privately told Vice President Scranton that she fully expected either Wallace or Goldwater to win on the first ballot. The House state delegations assembled, and one by one cast their votes. It soon became apparent that Goldwater was benefitting from a split Democratic vote, making inroads into the traditionally Democratic South and snapping up the delegations of Tennessee and Virginia.

But right alongside him was Chase Smith, who swept much of the Northeast and won Florida, much to Wallace's shock and consternation. All the same, as the delegations continued to vote and moderate to conservative Republicans stayed mostly unified, it looked very much like Goldwater would be the next President of the United States.

Then the delegation from Michigan stood up. Heading it was Minority Leader Gerald Ford, who, it was assumed, would vote for Goldwater. Wallace might have won the state in the election (with Chase Smith nipping at his heels) but none of Michigan's Democratic congressmen had deigned vote for him, instead casting their ballots to Chase Smith and Johnson. With the delegation tied, nine Goldwater votes to nine Chase Smith votes, Gerald Ford looked to where his former Vice President stood, watching from the balcony, and cast his vote in favor of her, effectively destroying any chance Barry Goldwater had of winning the first ballot.

Other Goldwater leaning delegations, encouraged by their Minority Leader's subversion, voted Chase Smith as well. Pennsylvania voted for the President by a margin of two, California leaned Chase Smith by one ballot. And so it went. Goldwater watched, stone faced, as his presidential hopes were dealt a significant setback. Nearby, Wallace paced back and forth, wondering just how it had gone so wrong.

House Election R1.png

Barry Goldwater - 22 states
Margaret Chase Smith - 17 states
George Wallace - 11 states

It would be noted later, by many a political commentator, that Wallace had won as many states in the House election as had seceded from the Union in 1861. His presidential hopes after the first ballot, they continued, were also about as dead as the Confederation those eleven states had formed.

But Wallace, though he was disappointed, was not ready to give up. He instructed his delegations to hold fast and wait until Chase Smith and Goldwater had deadlocked. Then he could extract some concessions from the President in exchange for the Southern delegations she would need to win.

He had not counted on the presence and effectiveness of Lyndon Johnson, who continued to prowl the House, haunting Southern congressman and using a mixture of cajoling, platitudes and out and out threats to further devastate Wallace's holdings. Chase Smith, for her part, continued to work away at the North, keeping her existing delegations in line and working to sway the will of Delaware's at-large congressman, amongst uncertain others in the Midwest.

By the time the second round of voting came, just a few days short of when the electors would officially cast their votes, the stage was set. Either someone would win outright, or William Scranton would become Acting President until such time as the House figured it out.

Fortunately, this did not prove to be necessary.

House Election R2.png

Margaret Chase Smith - 26 states
Barry Goldwater - 15 states
George Wallace - 9 states

Wallace's Southern firewall mostly held, but it was to no avail, for Goldwater's fragile hold over the Midwest collapsed entirely, handing Chase Smith the presidency once again, with the lowest percentage of the popular vote in American history.

Privately, Chase Smith would always deplore the slightly anti-democratic nature of what she had done, but always followed those small regrets with a self directed reminder that it had been to prevent extremism of one stripe or another from taking over the United States and devastating Civil Rights progress for a generation.

Johnson felt much the same, though he'd always had slightly ulterior motives for joining Chase Smith on her crusade. Despite his poor health, he was now in a position to affect greater change through domestic policy than at any point in his career. He knew that he would not be in any shape to run for his own presidential term in 1972, indeed his doctor was tearing his own hair out in tufts simply due to Johnson taking on the stresses of the vice presidency, but he could achieve some of his deepest held hopes and dreams here and now and go down in history as the man who had accomplished them, rather than waiting for some other fool to come along and do it later and worse.

Chase Smith, upon being inaugurated in January of 1969, announced that she was no longer a Republican, just as Johnson was no longer a Democrat.

"We are Americans." She concluded, and set to work on her second term.
A Single Red Rose Part V

Chase Smith faced a challenging situation both at home and abroad. With the conservative factions of both parties in open revolt against the administration, the war in Vietnam worsening, inflation beginning to rise and opposition to new Civil Rights legislation hardening in response to the perceived martyrdom of both Goldwater and Wallace in 1968, it was clear that there were hard times ahead both for the nation and the Chase Smith administration.

But amidst all this trouble, a bright spot presented itself in the form of the moon landing. On July 12, 1969, almost a decade after then Vice President Chase Smith had guided NASA's first funding package through congress in order to fund Alan Shepard's mission to space, the United States sent a capsule to the moon. Aboard were Mission Commander Buzz Aldrin, Lunar Module Pilot Alan Shepard and Command Module Pilot William Anders. On their three day trip to the moon all three men conducted scientific experiments, took hours of video footage and thousands of photographs.

And, when they arrived and the lunar module touched gently down in a flat sea of soft gray dust, Alan Shepard, the first American in space, stepped from the module and became the first man on the moon. This honor had been afforded him by Aldrin, who steadfastly refused to use his status as Mission Commander to get 'dibs' on being the first person to ever set foot on an extraterrestrial body and instead said that Shepard, who had served in the space program since almost the very beginning, deserved it more than anyone else.

The astronauts returned to earth safely and were lauded as heroes. Among the special delegation sent to greet them as they waited out their quarantine period aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hornet was Ohio Senator John Glenn, himself a former Mercury astronaut and the first man to orbit the earth.

The afterglow of the moon landing was interrupted, however, by massive enemy offensives in South Vietnam, in the winter of 1969, designed to cause the fall of Saigon and the collapse of South Vietnam. While these offensives failed, they caused many casualties and further eroded the willingness of the American people to support the war in Vietnam. Chase Smith had always been relatively honest about the state of the war and was disheartened to find that while American troops were consistently successful in the field and it did seem like the South Vietnamese government was beginning to stabilize a bit, the mood in America had moved strongly in favor of an immediate peace with the North Vietnamese.

There was only one problem: The North Vietnamese refused to negotiate. Even after the defeat of their offensives and the effective destruction of the VietMinh as a result, the North believed that they would be able to eventually outlast the South and their American allies and win by a war of attrition. To this effect they expanded operations in Laos and Cambodia, prompting Chase Smith to attempt to authorize expanded bombing operations in those countries.

Congress refused her, and Chase Smith, in a rare moment of out and out illegality, went ahead and ordered the bombings anyway. The bombing runs killed a great many people in the purportedly neutral countries and somewhat hampered North Vietnamese supply routes, but was otherwise a fruitless expansion of an already bloody and horrible war.

The 1970 midterms proved to be a confused mess, with partisan backlash hitting both parties at once. One thing was certain though, the unity government was growing increasingly unpopular, with both Chase Smith and Johnson the target of anti-war protests and numerous legislative efforts to tear apart Civil Rights and voting protection legislation. The conservative efforts in congress were largely unsuccessful, but the anti-war protests began to gain traction as the war stretched on and American combat deaths in Vietnam passed thirty thousand.

Chase Smith began to look for a way out, aided in this by Vice President Johnson, who was beginning to find that his time in the executive branch was slowly growing more and more tainted by the morass in Vietnam. Invoking Korea, Chase Smith announced that the government in South Vietnam would stand on its own, supported by American advisors but more than able to face communist ground troops with its own army. To this effect she focused less on gifting weapons systems and fighter jets to the South and instead supplied them thoroughly with rifles, ammunition and artillery. This would pay dividends once the United States began to slowly withdraw its troops in 1971.

The North was delighted by this turn of events and attempted another offensive in January of 1972. Much to their shock and dismay the ARVN held up in the face of a concerted offensive,which allowed American airpower to devastate North Vietnamese troop formations and armor columns. In less than a week they lost more than one hundred tanks and armored vehicles, four hundred trucks and fifty thousand soldiers.

The defeat sent the North reeling, and while they knew they were in no trouble of collapsing militarily...neither was the South. And that scared them.

Hanoi quickly came to the unwelcome conclusion that so long as America continued to fund the ARVN and support them from the air, North Vietnamese troops would likely not be able to overrun the country, especially with VietMinh guerrilla forces increasingly devastated by improved South Vietnamese counterinsurgency efforts and ill advised offensives.

On March 20, 1972, Hanoi agreed to come in for formal negotiations. These were never intended to be followed, at least not for long. Hanoi simply wished to wait and rebuild until such time as they could overrun the South, but Saigon knew this. President and General Ngo Quang Truong, who had succeeded his predecessor Thieu after a bitter but ultimately fair election in 1971, asked Chase Smith for more American aid. If it wasn't received, he indicated, then the South likely wouldn't attend the negotiations.

Chase Smith went to congress and, with Vice President Johnson's help, was able to force an aid package through that would support South Vietnam until 1980. After that it would need to be renegotiated by whoever was President at that point. Truong, relieved, attended negotiations in Bern with every intention of seeing an agreement made.

This relieved Chase Smith and Johnson, but also signified that they had incinerated the last bits of goodwill they had with congress. Some American troops and airmen would remain in Vietnam, that much was certain, but Chase Smith stressed that their numbers would never, ever be increased, under any circumstance. But though the war weary public was relieved to see that apparently something had been pulled from the quagmire, the general consensus was that it hadn't been worth it.

Chase Smith responded with a government funded campaign to glorify South Vietnam in American media and culture, which...kinda worked, but American public opinion towards the South Vietnamese would remain shaky for several more years, until the sting of the war had faded a little more.

The 1972 elections would prove to be a referendum on the status quo. On the Republican side very few people were willing to associate much with the Chase Smith administration, which looked to be entering its last full year in office with approval ratings that rarely topped 40%. They would improve marginally after the Bern peace accords were signed in December of 1972, but her presidency post 1968 would be looked at as decidedly mixed. 'At least she saved South Vietnam' one senator would say with a shrug. That was about the consensus.

Chase Smith didn't endorse any candidate in particular, she didn't wish to galvanize support against them on accident, but it was no secret that she wanted Gerald Ford to run again. But Ford made it clear that he was happy in the House and instead backed Attorney General Elliot Richardson, a moderate figure he hoped would be able to bind the country back together after a very divisive few years. Richardson, knowing he was tied far too closely tied to Chase Smith to stand a chance in a Republican primary, declined to run.

Instead, in jumped William F. Buckley Jr., whose acidic sarcasm and intellectual prowess, combined with a determination to purge the party of 'KKK kooks and Bircher weirdos' proved a popular tonic after the bitter and divisive campaign of Barry Goldwater in 1968. Buckley and Goldwater had never gotten along especially well, Buckley finding that he liked Goldwater's politics an awful lot more than he liked Goldwater himself.

As his own man Buckley insisted that he would bring back conservatism as an ideology fit for every American, of every shade and religion and creed. He was unafraid to call out Birchers as 'wannabe fascists' and alienated the far right even as the rest of the party slowly warmed to the erudite New Yorker. At first it wasn't entirely known if this was a joke or a stunt, as had been his campaign for Mayor of New York City in 1965 (the 19% of the vote he won there had likely been a deciding factor in Goldwater's decision to select him as running mate) but it quickly became clear that Buckley was serious.

He won the nomination, beating out a raft of establishment candidates he characterized as stooges of the Chase Smith administration, and selected Nevada Governor Paul Laxalt as his running mate. Buckley liked Laxalt's genial manner and willingness to do unpopular things if he thought they were right (as Governor Laxalt had raised taxes in order to cover state costs rather than eat a damaging deficit), figuring that the Nevadan would help balance out his own youth and aggression.

The Democrats after 1968 had gone through a period of soul searching. After George Wallace had won the nomination through a nakedly demagogic campaign in the previous cycle, the party leaders were determined to never see such a thing happen again. They reformed the primary system and ensured that the popular vote of the people rather than the votes of a few hundred easily swayed party delegates would be the key to the nomination.

Democrats, including the sitting Vice President, also went after Wallace. George Wallace, following the collapse of his coalition and his high profile defeat in the House of Representatives, had returned home to Alabama full of angry energy, determined to cement in place a narrative that he had been defeated by the machinations of Washington politicians. But though this was certainly popular amongst his base, Alabama had changed greatly since his first election as Governor. Blacks were now allowed to register and vote, poll taxes and segregation had been cast into the ash-bin of history and the demographics of the state's voting population had changed greatly.

Wallace also wasn't in power any longer. Alabama's constitution did not allow the Governor to seek consecutive terms, and so Wallace had installed his wife Lurleen to run Alabama (with him at the power behind the throne) from 1966 to 1970. Unfortunately, Lurleen had been diagnosed with cancer and died in office shortly before the announcement of Wallace's 1968 presidential campaign.

Taking her place had been Lieutenant Governor Albert Brewer, a progressive who looked across the changing landscape of Alabama and decided to move the government there into the future. He refused to participate in race-baiting, unveiled a broadly progressive agenda and quickly became an enemy of George Wallace, who was determined to destroy him and reclaim the governorship. There, Wallace believed, he could soften his own views and seek the Democratic nomination in 1976 or beyond. Time healed even the deepest wounds after all, and the future seemed bright for someone like him.

Albert Brewer took the high road, courted black voters and refused to slur Wallace's name. Wallace took absolutely the opposite tack, released ads attacking Brewer as a friend of Black Panthers and covertly rallied Klan support, all the while harassing Brewer. In the climax to this smear campaign against Brewer, Wallace's campaign released ads insinuating that Brewer's young daughter was pregnant with a 'mulatto baby' and describing his wife as a drunk.

Brewer, for his part, received financial support not only from the Democratic Party, but the Vice President as well. Johnson had been watching Wallace and knew that if he were defeated in 1970 then his political career would be effectively destroyed. As such he rallied support for Brewer, pulling strings and remaining out of sight. Anything to ensure that Wallace was destroyed utterly.

And it worked. In the runoff election for the Democratic primaries, at that time the only real election in Alabama gubernatorial politics, Brewer prevailed by seventeen hundred votes and went on to win the gubernatorial election with sixty five percent of the vote. Wallace, much like segregation and the poll tax, was relegated to the ash-bin of history.

Brewer, as a progressive Alabaman Democrat in the mold of Jim Folsom, received a great deal of national attention and was lauded by the liberal leaning portions of the press. He was even asked if he intended to run for President in 1972. Brewer said he intended to stay and care for his state, but certain thoughts were awakened in his mind.

By the time primaries rolled around, it became clear that the Democratic field would be crowded. Governors, Senators and congresspeople of all political dispositions and all geographic representations came forth to make their case as to why they ought to be President. But one rose above all the rest.

Senator John Glenn of Ohio was warm, charismatic and a bonafide American hero, with laurels that stretched from the Pacific theater of World War Two, to the frigid skies over Korea, to the inky vastness of outer space. And with the Apollo program running hot, America simply could not resist an astronaut. Glenn won the nomination handily and, in a move that twisted the knife in George Wallace's back just a little further, picked Alabama Governor Albert Brewer as his running mate.

Brewer was young, handsome, and a very visible symbol that the Democratic Party had moved on from that brief ugly moment where Wallace had been running the show.

But the far right, the Birchers, the ugly minded degenerates lurking in the pits and fringes of American society would not be silenced. And they made it known in the form of John Rarick, a former Democrat who gave up his party affiliation the day Wallace was unseated in Alabama. Running as a States Rights candidate, Rarick took all of Wallace's lust for power and combined it with exactly none of the man's (shaky) subtlety, running a nakedly racist and xenophobic campaign that targeted minorities, globalists and liberals as the sources of all America's problems. He called Chase Smith a 'shrill harpy', Buckley a 'pseudo-intellectual globalist' and Glenn a 'liberal UN stooge'.

Both Buckley and Glenn denounced Rarick harshly. There seemed to be something about the Louisianan that ticked both men off, and though they criticized each other in public as part of campaign duties (though both apparently liked each other just fine in private) they were open in their hatred and open contempt for Rarick and his entire ideology. Buckley campaigned hard in Louisiana to ensure that Rarick did not win any states, Glenn reminded voters that men and women of all colors and creeds had worked hard to ensure that he could be sent safely into space, and President Chase Smith broke her silence on the presidential race to offhandedly say to a reporter that Rarick was 'a real bore'. She'd dealt with all this before. She just wanted Rarick to go away.

By the time the election rolled around, both candidates were with the margin of error, but Glenn had a distinct advantage both in momentum and in public enthusiasm. And as the results from New York state began to come in, Buckley was alleged to have gotten up and gone to enjoy a quiet evening with his wife and son instead. He returned to campaign headquarters promptly at midnight to deliver his concession, congratulating Glenn on a well earned victory.

Glenn in turn congratulated Buckley on a well run campaign that had turned a year that really ought to have been hard on Republicans into a genuinely competitive race. Neither had anything to say about Rarick, though Glenn would later admit to being amused that Rarick and Buckley had split the conservative vote in just the right way to allow his liberal ticket to win Louisiana and deliver a final humiliation to the far right faction.

With the election won and the Democratic Party returning (fully) to the White House for the first time in twenty years, Glenn got ready to tackle a still divided nation and a tough international situation. He felt more than up to the task.

Senator John Glenn/Governor Albert Brewer - 303 EV 46.1% PV
Publisher William F. Buckley Jr./Governor Paul Laxalt - 235 EV 45.5% PV
Rep. John Rarick/Rep. John Schmitz - 0 EV 8.4% PV

So turning 1968 into a mega-dystopia(30% inflation, 25% unemployment, -10% GNP growth per year, Vietnam War as popular as World War I in 1917 Russia) yields this result:


Wallace was able to get a plurality in the PV by running up the score in the South, and neither Nixon nor Humphrey were able to get a majority in any state.
Hmm, I wonder if it's even possible to have a third party win without making completely off the wall economic collapse conditions.
I managed to make an effective three-way tie in the popular vote in a 1980 Helms-Chisholm-Anderson race (it might have been an Anderson win even).
Since the thread is once more active, I'll post this game series I've done, with the POD being that Johnson doesn't get into Vietnam, thus making a success of the Great Society and not creating the spiral of cynicism about government that kicked off the conservative revolution.

While this list may seem slanted, these were all achieved naturally, without my interference, and without crazy conditions.
Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 1.38.11 PM.png
Screen Shot 2018-04-28 at 3.06.37 PM.png
Screen Shot 2018-04-28 at 4.24.59 PM.png
Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 7.45.30 PM.png
Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 8.14.16 PM.png
Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 11.19.34 PM.png

1964-1972 President: Lyndon Johnson, D-TX, VP: Hubert Humphrey, D-TX

1972-1976 President: Hubert Humphrey, D-MN, VP: John Connally, D-TX

1976-1980 President: Robert Kennedy, VP: John Glenn, D-OH

1980-1988 President: John Anderson, R-IL, VP, Howard Baker, R-TN

1988- President Joseph Biden, D-DE, VP, Dick Gephardt, D-MO
How exactly Rockefeller won the otherwise solidly Democratic West Virginia in '72, despite his campaign having no connection to that state, will remain a mystery for the ages.
Seven Shots: Part I

Senator Robert Kennedy had been shot, that was about all anyone could agree on for the first few chaotic hours after the kitchen of Los Angeles' Ambassador Hotel turned abruptly into a shooting gallery. There had been shots fired, a suspect had been arrested, and the Senator from New York was in the hospital. For much of the night media and well wishers hovered anxiously by the entrance to the Hospital of the Good Samaritan, where Kennedy had been transferred, desperate for updates on the Senator's condition. It was only as the sun came up that Kennedy campaign aide Fred Dutton, who had been standing next to Kennedy during the assassination, appeared to say that Senator Kennedy's condition was serious but stable.

In the days that followed more information would become available to the public. Kennedy had been shot two times, and another five people had been injured, fortunately none of them seriously. The assassin, detained on the scene, was revealed to be Sirhan Sirhan, a Palestinian immigrant whose motivations for carrying out the attempted assassination seemed to be connected to outrage over Senator Kennedy's support for Israel.

Kennedy himself had been shot twice in the abdomen but though his wounds were severe, doctors judged almost immediately that the Senator would make a full recovery, much to the relief of the nation. After the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. earlier in the year, nobody wanted any more political killings.

The impact of Kennedy's attempted assassination upon the Democratic presidential primaries was enormous. It soon became apparent that Kennedy, who was too weak to so much as lift his arms without help, would not be in any shape to serve as the Democratic Party's nominee. His presidential chances in the year 1968, already slim even before the assassination, were completely crushed.

Though he was disappointed, Kennedy ended his campaign gracefully enough, his brother Ted delivering the official news on his behalf. At the Democratic National Convention, slated to take place in Chicago, Kennedy expected the delegates to select an anti-war candidate, perhaps Edmund Muskie, George McGovern or even Eugene McCarthy (though Kennedy's own personal rivalry with the Minnesota Senator precluded any possibility of an endorsement), and so he was fairly optimistic as the convention began, giving an official endorsement to George McGovern, a longtime friend and anti-war ally.

...It was a rude shock when Vice President Humphrey, aided by President Johnson and Mayor Daley, successfully secured the party nomination on the first ballot. This effective overthrow of the party base's anti-war sentiments outraged many, and soon riots were raging on the streets outside, Chicago police battering protesters. News coverage of the chaos horrified people all across the nation. Richard Nixon, who had been nominated as his party's presidential choice three weeks before, watched with unease and more than a little pleasure. The race was his, he figured.

Humphrey, knowing that he was on the verge of losing the election before it even began, decided to play to the Kennedys and the anti-war faction as a whole. Instead of selecting a more traditional figure to be his running mate, he reached straight into the Kennedy ranks and selected Senator Fred Harris of Oklahoma. Harris was a bold choice, openly anti-war and only thirty seven years old. Still, he was a talented politician and one of the authors of the famous anti-racist Kerner Report of the previous year, which gave him invaluable liberal credentials.

Harris' selection probably kept the convention from becoming a complete disaster for Humphrey, though his post-convention bounce was effectively neutralized by the aftermath of the police riot in the streets. Nixon began the race well ahead of Humphrey, and in the south an emboldened George Wallace selected retired Strategic Air Command chief Curtis LeMay as his running mate and began fear mongering about the Democratic ticket and how surely they'd give away the farm in Vietnam. This soon backfired when LeMay made a number of unfortunate statements about nuclear weapons, but Wallace maintained a steady lead in a number of deep south states.

President Johnson was initially unhappy about his Vice President's decision to embrace the anti-war wing of the party, but soon came face to face with an unwelcome reality. He was not popular. If Humphrey kept to the administration line then he would probably lose...and let Nixon into the White House. Johnson didn't especially care for Robert Kennedy and his people, but he cared even less for the Republican Party and what they'd surely do to his Great Society programs. Begrudgingly, he allowed Humphrey to advocate for a bombing freeze and more aggressively pro-peace measures. He also campaigned hard in Texas, though never with the same enthusiasm he'd brought with him in 1964.

To Richard Nixon's shock, the election he'd initially considered to be over and done with as violence and chaos scarred the streets of Chicago...was actually turning genuinely competitive. His leads in states like Ohio and Illinois were steady, but Humphrey remained strong in Texas, Iowa and Missouri, states that Nixon desperately needed if he wanted to win. And Wallace was still holding strong in the south, even if his chances of becoming a truly national candidate had shattered against LeMay's big mouth.

And then came the Democratic masterstroke. In the final few months of the campaign both the South and North Vietnamese governments agreed to peace talks. This was a major boon to the Humphrey campaign. Peace suddenly seemed likely, and the Democrats were leading in the polls, albeit by a razor thin margin. Nixon, watching this, suddenly saw shades of 1960 again. They were cheating him, the government was using foreign policy to win an election...

Desperate actions would need to be taken.

When the South Vietnamese government abruptly withdrew from the proposed peace talks in the final weeks of the election, it turned everything onto its head. As did the leaked transcripts which seemed to indicate that the Nixon campaign was behind it.

Nixon denied any involvement, but with the peace talks shattered and virtually everyone hobbled in some fashion, the election ended with both sides well inside of the polls' margin of error.

Vice President Hubert Humphrey/Senator Fred Harris - 236 EV 46.1% PV
Former Vice President Richard Nixon/Governor Spiro Agnew - 263 EV 44.8% PV
Governor George Wallace/Retired General Curtis LeMay - 39 EV 9.1% PV


[This election was actually super close in a lot of the West, with New Mexico, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Alaska all voting for Nixon by margins of less than ~5,000 votes.]
Last edited:
Seven Shots: Part II

It wasn't exactly a surprise to see the House elect Hubert Humphrey and Fred Harris to the presidency. Not only had Nixon probably colluded with a foreign government in service of getting elected, he'd also lost the popular vote by about eight hundred thousand ballots. Despite his electoral advantage, which Nixon allies trumpeted (and allegedly attempted to bribe electors in Democratic and Wallace states to bolster), the House was solidly Democratic and delivered Humphrey the presidency on its first ballot.

But though Humphrey had won the presidency (and the unusual circumstances were quickly airbrushed away by Democratic Party allies as being due to Nixonian corruption) his administration would prove no less troubled than the initial election which landed him in the seat.

If one thing was certain, the Humphrey administration did not trust the government of South Vietnam. Though Humphrey and Thieu were all smiles in public, Humphrey knew that the South Vietnamese had effectively allied themselves to the Republican Party as opposed to America as a whole. The abrupt withdrawal of South Vietnam from the 1968 peace talks had effectively imploded North Vietnamese trust in the whole enterprise and Hanoi refused to renew negotiations, citing capitalist treachery as a reason to continue the war.

Humphrey, now free to run the war the way he saw fit (as opposed to Johnson, MacNamara or any of a hundred other hawkish Johnson era advisors) began the process of transferring combat responsibility to the ARVN, lavishing them with weapons while gradually drawing down American troop levels.

This...sorta worked. While the countryside flipped almost totally to the VietCong and their NVA allies, the cities and land surrounding them were firmly in government hands, with any VietCong attempts to take them firmly rebuffed. Thus Vietnam by 1970 had turned into a brutal stalemate, the occasional North Vietnamese offensive shattered by American airpower, which remained plentiful.

On the domestic front Humphrey was more successful, though he faced obstinance from Republicans, many of whom believed him to be illegitimate due to the 1968 election having been settled in the House. The Press Secretary's continual refrain was that Humphrey had won the popular vote, thus he was the nation's pick. One lawmaker asked if the Humphrey administration thought that John Quincy Adams was not a legitimate POTUS based upon those parameters, but the Press Secretary offered no reply.

Humphrey was able to boost a number of Great Society programs, but resentment was simmering beneath the surface. The anti-war left was less that convinced that Humphrey was doing everything he could to end the war, and the draft continued to pull young men into the jungle. The fact that fewer and fewer were going was of little consolation to people like Robert Kennedy and George McGovern, who were beginning to regret having gone easy on Humphrey during the election.

Another issue to sap Humphrey's popularity was bussing, which he vociferously supported. A number of cases went to court, and though bussing was upheld as fundamentally constitutional and, in the opinion of Thurgood Marshall, who wrote the majority opinion, necessary, the fact that the case had been decided due to the presence of a Humphrey appointee was latched upon by conservatives as evidence that the ruling was illegitimate.

Indeed, Humphrey had to federalize the National Guard in a number of states and cities in order to force certain school districts to buss children to the correct schools. Though this restored some of his credibility with liberal voters, overall the Democratic base was demoralized going into the 1970 midterms...which were bloodbaths for the Democratic Party.

Invigorated, the Republican Party looked ahead to 1972. Though they were ascendant on a local level, their national presence was still tarred by the presence of Richard Nixon, who had lost two very winnable elections and probably committed what was essentially an act of treason while losing the second. Though his approvals remained more or less above water amongst Republicans, the former Vice President was widely maligned by independents and especially Democrats. Thus he was cast into the wilderness again, this time never to return.

Indeed, Nixonian conservatism was fairly out of fashion. Rockefeller and his cohorts were giddy with glee, all but gloating over Nixon's loss. Goldwater's faction was more muted, having supported Nixon quite heavily during the election, but quickly reinvented their posture to insist that Nixon had always been a liberal, not nearly conservative enough to win an election for the Republican Party.

By the time the primaries rolled around, it looked very much like someone from the Rockefeller camp would become the Republican nominee, while Humphrey faced no serious opposition in securing the nod of his party. Though McGovern and Kennedy were more or less in open revolt against his war policies, they were happy enough with the administration's domestic stances to not commit to a primary challenge.

On the Republican side Nelson Rockefeller ruled out running for President himself, citing health issues (which really meant an embarrassing extramarital affair scandal), but gave his blessing to a relative newcomer to the national spotlight. Washington Governor Daniel Evans was young, charismatic and had given the keynote speech at the previous Republican National Convention, refusing to make an outright endorsement of Nixon. At the time this had angered Nixon and put Evans on the outs with the party, but with Nixon repudiated, the Governor's star was again on the rise.

He faced off against a small sea of other candidates, conservative and liberal alike, but was able to make use of his relatively moderate political record and shoot up the middle to secure the nomination. For his running mate he was faced with a tough choice. Virtually everyone he'd run against wished to be selected. John Ashbrook promised to win over Goldwater conservatives, Pete McCloskey said that doubling down on Rockefeller style liberalism was the way to go.

But Evans selected none of his rivals, instead taking a page from Richard Nixon's book and picking a relative unknown.

That unknown came in the form of Iowa Governor Robert Ray. Ray was popular, conservative enough to mollify the Goldwater faction, but also soft spoken and unlikely to overshadow the top of the ticket. He also boasted enough moderate to liberal achievements to not scare the more liberal side of the party. The ticket was nominated to much excitement and the election began in a hurry.

At first it seemed that Humphrey was ahead. After all, the economy was fine, the war was relatively stable (if still markedly unpopular) and the domestic situation more or less okay. There weren't too many riots throughout the summer, and Humphrey was warmly received in most Democratic parts of the nation. But though the party base was more or less unified around him, he'd lost the confidence of many independents and moderates, who saw the Minnesotan's unabashed social liberalism as a threat.

Truth be told, Evans wasn't too far removed from Humphrey when it came to Civil Rights. He'd spoken well about bussing while Governor (even if he had to be very vague about it while on the campaign trail) and saw nothing wrong with much of the Great Society. But he enjoyed the confidence of people who thought he was going to undo those policies (and indeed Evans didn't plan to defend bussing very vigorously in court, if only to protect his political career) and so began to catch up with Humphrey as the summer proceeded and Election Day grew closer.

Humphrey still kept it quite close, but by October the Republican ticket was within the margin of error. Humphrey won the televised presidential debate, and that helped, but when the polls began to close it was clear that Republican numbers had vastly improved over 1968, while Democrats, unexcited by Humphrey's candidacy and the lack of progress on the war, were simply unable to keep up.

While Humphrey did win states like Ohio and Illinois, he lost the Democratic stronghold of Pennsylvania (by less than ten thousand votes) and Texas slipped through his fingers by a similarly narrow margin. The margin was perhaps narrower than it might have otherwise been, and indeed both Humphrey and Harris had worked themselves to the bone, but they were simply unable to beat a combination of Republican momentum, national ennui and voter fatigue stemming from twelve years of Democratic presidential rule.

Just past one in the morning President Humphrey called Governor Evans to concede the race. Evans graciously accepted and congratulated his opponent on a well run race. Next to him, the new President-Elect's Deputy Chief of Staff couldn't hold back a grin.

It was the happiest day of Ted Bundy's life.

Governor Dan Evans/Governor Robert Ray - 330 EV 50.5% PV
President Hubert Humphrey/Vice President Fred Harris - 208 EV 49.5% PV

Last edited:
Seven Shots: Part III

[This part is very long and mostly about alt-universe Ted Bundy. Clearly I listen to too many true crime podcasts.]

It remains nearly impossible, even today, to speak about the Evans administration without bringing up Ted Bundy.

Ted Bundy joined the Evans campaign in late 1971 as a twenty five year old University of Washington student. He brought with him a series of glowing recommendations from past jobs, most notably one as a Suicide Crisis Hotline operator in Seattle. It remains unclear exactly what role Bundy played during the early organizational days of Evans' campaign, but by the time he graduated from the University of Washington and joined the campaign full time he had apparently kindled a close and what would prove to be lasting relationship with Governor Evans.

Evans, initially considered a long shot, clung to those who had joined his campaign early even as he won his party's nomination and charged towards the presidency itself. Amongst those early joiners was Bundy, who proved himself resourceful and charismatic. As a result Evans trusted the young campaign aide with nearly everything, despite concerns from others that Bundy's youth and relative inexperience could prove disqualifying.

By all accounts Bundy acquitted himself well during the 1972 campaign, taking to politics with vigor and interest. His managerial style was considered somewhat disinterested, but he kept enough of a handle on the people under him that by the time Election Day rolled around and Evans was swept into office, defeating incumbent President Hubert Humphrey, Ted Bundy was quite well regarded by most of the people around him. Governor Evans kept him close, using Bundy's charm and good looks to his advantage, softening the blow of minor scandals and gaffes.

The estimated eleven women and girls who went missing in the various cities and towns that Bundy visited while campaigning during the summer and fall of 1972 would not be linked with the young Washingtonian until much later. Later, after his arrest, Bundy would claim that normally he killed at a rate of roughly one victim per month, with occasional gaps of as long as a year. During the campaign his killings had accelerated, to the point where by the end of October he was murdering one woman nearly every week.

The killings, combined with Bundy's strenuous campaign workload, meant that some of his later killings were rushed or sloppily hidden. At one point a fellow campaign aide discovered Bundy in a headquarters bathroom, scrubbing vivid crimson stains from the front of his shirt. Bundy explained the blood away as being from a nosebleed and nothing more came of the close call, even after a woman's corpse was discovered less than a mile away. One other victim survived Bundy's assault and managed to escape from the culvert he'd placed her body, though her description of the man who had attacked her was too vague for police to act upon.

His killings abruptly stopped after Evans' inauguration, as Bundy found himself locked down in Washington D.C. and kept under fairly close scrutiny. He was part of a presidential administration now, President Evans naming him Deputy Chief of Staff. This shocked many campaign insiders and Republican politicians, who had assumed that such a prestigious post would go to one of them rather than someone as young and inexperienced as Bundy.

But while Bundy privately resented the doubt he was shown, he was bolstered by the confidence of the President, who considered Bundy a close friend. Evans made use of his new Deputy Chief of Staff in many ways, some quite unorthodox. While Bundy was competent at organization and leadership, where he truly shone was with his interpersonal skills. Bundy could smile and cajole and schmooze with the best of them. So it wasn't too surprising for those inside of the administration when Ted Bundy showed up one morning in mid 1973 to deliver a press briefing, filling in for the incumbent Press Secretary, who was undergoing ankle surgery.

The press, who had been expecting the Deputy Press Secretary, were quietly surprised to see a young man in his mid twenties representing the President of the United States. Those who had covered the Evans campaign closely during the election were more settled. They knew Ted Bundy. They knew what to expect. And so Bundy's performance was well received, the President quietly hoping that it would help draw young voters to the GOP. Where the image of conservatism was often conflated with old, out of touch country club types, Bundy was something different. He certainly dressed like a conservative politician, but his speech was occasionally informal and even jokey. He called the reporters in the press pool by their first names and inquired after the families of the ones he knew from the election.

He practically blinded everyone in the room with pure charm and, by the time it was all over, some were already calling him a wunderkind. Bundy bathed in this positive attention, eagerly accepting the chance to do more press briefings...and indeed everything that would land him in front of a camera or a crowd. He introduced President Evans at events, checked over speeches, responded to the press, and even took part in a number of legislative meetings between Evans and congressional leadership.

But where Evans openly adored Bundy, many high level politicians were more suspicious. Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield went so far as to call him 'a little Rasputin' in private. The nickname stuck. Bundy hated it.

His pique at facing actual pushback from political opponents was soon intensified by something unexpected. President Evans, though he liked having Bundy squirreled away in a position where he could be used for nearly everything that needed doing, was also facing some resistance from members of his own party. They didn't like that Bundy was being so high profile. Whether this was motivated by jealousy (which it almost certainly was) or professional concern, Evans knew he would need to listen to them. While Bundy was quite well liked by Evans and much of the White House staff, he was seen as something of a show-offish pretty boy by congressional leadership of both parties.

Evans decided that if he was to stick Bundy in one role, he might as well continue making use of his skills. In November of 1973, nine months into his administration, Evans asked Bundy if he would like to become Deputy Press Secretary, with the implicit understanding that he would get the top job after the 1974 midterms.

Bundy was shocked. He had become accustomed to taking a more rambling path through the White House, and to have his power limited was horrifying. He had also expected to become Chief of Staff one day, and while Press Secretary was certainly a powerful and very visible position, it barely held a candle to the level of control that came with keeping track of who saw the President and when.

Bundy accepted Evans' proposal, his political skills were sharp enough to overcome his pride, but less than a week later he began killing again.

His m.o. for these later crimes were somewhat different than his earlier killings. In 1972 and before, Ted Bundy's method of finding a victim was to simply ask a woman for help with something. He would pretend to have lost his keys, or he'd have his arm done up in a sling and would pretend to fumble with a large stack of books while unlocking his car. If anyone suitable stopped to help then he would make sure they were alone, knock them unconscious and then drive somewhere secluded to finish his atrocities.

But now Bundy knew he could no longer do that. His face was on the cover of newspapers and his appearances in front of the country in the form of morning press briefings were becoming more and more frequent as the actual Press Secretary prepared for retirement.

The Bundy killings of 1973 followed a more nocturnal, brutal progression of events. Bundy would locate basement apartments with street level windows. Many of these did not have bars in front of them, and once he was certain that young women lived in them he would force the lock on the window, slip inside and bludgeon his victims to death. He killed at least four this way throughout the rest of 1973, though the actual total is likely higher.

But though he was careful to remove all incriminating evidence of his presence from the scenes, his compulsion to kill left other traces.

For one thing, he almost always drove. Upon taking an official job at the White House, Ted Bundy had bought a shiny black Mercedes. While this didn't stand out in the Georgetown neighborhood where he lived, the sight of such a car in the rest of Washington, especially in the middle of the night, made people take notice. As did the fact that Bundy's nightly outings didn't go unnoticed by neighbors and journalists alike.

The general assumption was that Bundy led something of a playboy lifestyle, and he was happy to allow these rumors to flourish. While it took the attention of journalists away from him, Bundy's neighbors were annoyed by the sound of his car leaving and arriving in the middle of the night. He was confronted more than once, though Bundy simply ignored their requests that he be more quiet. And in the White House itself, his work ethic began to slip. Having been limited to Deputy Press Secretary, some of the fun and allure of politics had begun to drain from his situation. Bundy began to act more disinterested while in the office. His press briefings acquired a sharp, unpleasantly arrogant edge that displeased President Evans. His administration was on shaky ground in terms of overall popularity, and while he had promised to end the war in Vietnam and fix a tottering economy, the overall perception was that he hadn't managed to get much done.

Overall, Evans had done some excellent things. He had, with the help of Vice President Ray, passed a nationwide recycling guarantee program for cans and bottles, promising five cents per can/bottle that a citizen turned in to be recycled. While this undoubtedly cut down on litter and did demonstrably prove to be something of an unintentional universal income amongst America's homeless population, it wasn't exactly the sort of thing that secured reelection.

And the Democrats were raring to take him on. Former Vice President Fred Harris, presumed front runner for the nomination in 1976, proposed ambitious reforms that seemed, to many Americans, to be much more exciting than whatever Evans was doing. Early polling showed Harris with a slight but persistent advantage.

In that environment the last thing Evans needed was a confrontational Deputy Press Secretary. He warned Bundy to pull himself together. Bundy promised that he would, but internally a coal of rage had been stoked. In February of 1974 Ted Bundy killed four people and left another in a coma, her skull fractured. At times he would spend much of the night with his victims, emerging only to rush to the White House...where his work continued to slip.

Meanwhile, Bundy's neighbors officially called a noise complaint on him, which had to be investigated by the police. Bundy, charming as ever, apologized to the officers and accepted a warning. No fine was levied, the police had no intention of actually taking on a White House official over something as minor as a noise complaint...but as they left one of the officers took notice of Bundy's car.

It was a distinctive, lovely car, with white walled tires that contrasted the car's sleek black body.

It also matched the description of a car seen cruising through a neighborhood shortly before a pair of murders less than a week before. While the officer didn't voice his suspicions, after all, there was no way the culprit was the White House's Deputy Press Secretary, he did take down Bundy's license plate number.

When Bundy killed again two nights later, once again a black Mercedes with white walled tires was seen near the scene of the crime.

This wasn't the end for Bundy, however. While the police were beginning to believe that the myriad killings of the past few months were in fact being committed by a single individual, they had no eyewitnesses. The sole survivor of the killing spree as they knew it was still in a coma. All they had to go off of was the car.

As the spring of 1974 progressed, Evans decided to take Bundy aside once more. He then offered Bundy something big, knowing that otherwise his Deputy Press Secretary would just continue to get more and more disaffected with his work. The big thing that Evans offered Bundy was the announcement to American press that the United States was once again engaging in serious negotiations with the North Vietnamese.

For the past few years the South Vietnamese government had effectively been limited to the cities and a few corridors of land that ran between them. The countryside, while it was recognized as South Vietnamese soil, was unofficially owned by the VietCong, who had begun to rebuild and recover from the disastrous Tet Offensive of 1968. The situation was effectively a stalemate, with ARVN and American soldiers (of which there were 20,000 in Vietnam as of 1974) mounting only punitive raids into the countryside, the NVA and VietCong doing much the same. Both sides knew that nothing good would happen if they did anything more serious.

For the North the main reason to negotiate was the continual bombing of their cities and roads. Organized infrastructure in much of North Vietnam was a distant memory, and while the country continued to function, the government knew that eventually their citizenry would begin to question the costs. Perhaps not before the Americans gave up...but they didn't especially want to run that risk. The ARVN were simply too well equipped to be easily overrun, and the Americans were still committed to defending them with airpower if not infantry.

The announcement that negotiations were coming for the first time since the fall of 1968 was a shot in the arm to the Evans administration...and Bundy as well. He leapt into the role with vigor, eager to make his mark on history.

Unbeknownst to him, the police were beginning to close in. They'd compiled a list of black Mercedes registered to people in the city, and while it was intolerably long (as was to be expected for Washington D.C.), the officer who had responded to a certain noise complaint at Bundy's residence two months earlier added his inferences to the investigation. They were immediately discarded. No way the killer was the White House Deputy Press Secretary.

But the officer, troubled by this, decided to go and investigate further. Returning to Bundy's street, he spoke to the Deputy Press Secretary's neighbors, who were more than happy to tell him that Bundy was fond of going out late at night and roaring off down the street without the slightest concern for anyone around. Certain suspicions confirmed, the officer requested they call in when Bundy made another nightly outing.

Their call came two nights did another murder.

Armed with this alarming coincidence, the officer confronted his superiors, who once again warned him to leave it alone. Was he a Democrat or something? Why was he trying to mess with the White House?

Rankled, the officer decided to take matters into his own hands. But even as he did so, word was reaching the White House that maybe Bundy was a suspect in a murder investigation. It didn't take long for this to make its way directly to President Evans. Evans, already facing condemnation from elements of his own party over the upcoming negotiations with the North Vietnamese, cast the possible allegations against Bundy aside as spurious. There was no way Bundy was a murderer. This was nonsense coming from Bundy's political enemies, Evans concluded. Especially since the police didn't officially have Bundy listed as a person of interest in their case.

And besides, Bundy was doing much better now. Whatever funk he'd been in before seemed to have worn off.

But still the killings continued.

By early April they had made the jump from the police to a public matter. At least eleven were dead, one more still locked away in a coma, and very possibly there were more missing. The press gave the killer different names, though 'the Mercedes Maniac' seemed to stick best. But though there was rising fear around the killings, the police didn't seem to know much of anything. Only that the killer targeted women in their late teens and twenties...and that he drove a Mercedes with white walled tires.

By now Bundy had changed out his tires, but for whatever reason he kept the Mercedes itself. It seemed to give him a perverse pleasure to drive to and from the White House in the very vehicle that delivered him to his murders. Another aspect seemed to be the fear.

By the time negotiations with the North Vietnamese began in mid May of 1974 (with hopes of being wrapped up in time for the midterms) Bundy was feeling just fine again. He would do excellently as Press Secretary, he decided. He would do excellently, then perhaps when Evans was reelected the President would see fit to place him in another Chief of Staff.

As he drove away from his apartment, on his way to another murder...Bundy didn't realize that he was being followed.

The Washington D.C. police officer who had first suspected Bundy of being behind the Mercedes killings had been continually stonewalled and even threatened by his own superiors of the past two months. It was only after he was threatened with a demotion that the officer went silent. But his silence didn't equal inaction. For the past week he had cased Bundy's apartment, waiting for the man himself to go for a drive. It was only now that he did so. The officer, in plain clothes and behind the wheel of his civilian vehicle, followed at a discreet distance, mouth dry, heart in his throat.

Bundy drove aimlessly for some time, up and down streets, slowing at some points, stopping entirely at others. It was difficult to tail him, and every so often the officer had to pull over. But Bundy didn't seem to be looking for tails. Rather, he was examining windows and doors. The barred ones he ignored entirely, but every so often he seemed to make a note of something in a little green book.

He returned to his apartment an hour later and the officer left, disappointed but still convinced that Bundy was exactly the person he was looking for. The next night, Bundy went out again...and again the officer followed. Bundy took a similar route, and once again stopped and looked at certain windows. If they were still lit he left them alone, but then, suddenly, the black Mercedes came to a stop.

Bundy exited, holding something under one arm. It took the officer a moment to recognize it as a fire poker, the sharp end removed, the iron wrapped with thick layers of electrical tape. Proceeding to a darkened street level window, Bundy knelt and began to fiddle with the lock. And at that moment the office leapt from his car, revolver drawn, and raced towards Bundy, shouting for him to put up his hands.

Bundy, startled, fell over, the poker clanging into the gutter. The officer, announcing who he was, demanded that Bundy put up his hands. Bundy went for the poker and a struggle ensued, the office coming out on top. Wheezing, his nose bloodied, hair mussed, Bundy stared up into the black barrel of the officer's gun.

"I really wish you'd killed me." He said.

The little green book contained lists and lists of addresses, some crossed off, others marked with little notes. 'Bars inside'. 'Bitch'. 'Negro'. And so forth.

And beneath the front passenger seat, carefully hidden away in a little tin box, were one hundred carefully sorted Polaroids, most showing Bundy's victims and just what he'd done to them.

On May 17, 1974, just past four in the morning, Deputy Press Secretary Ted Bundy was arrested for the murder of at least eleven women.

The news hit the White House hard. President Evans sat in stunned silence for several moments, looking over the black and white copies of the Polaroids the police had recovered from Bundy's car. He seemed to age at least ten years before he put them down. Looking up from the grisly parade of horror strewn across his desk, Evans quietly fired Ted Bundy, then buried his face in his hands.

Ted Bundy himself was weirdly calm, gaze directed to middle space straight ahead of him as he was processed and fingerprinted. The officer who had arrested him stood off to the side, watching Bundy closely. Bundy didn't spare his arrester a single look. When he spoke it was only to ask for his lawyer, who promptly came. At this point Bundy became more animated, sitting reassuredly back in his chair, cuffed hands folded in his lap.

"This is nothing," Bundy said, "all a bunch of lies."

His lawyer said nothing, just began to open his briefcase.

"Dan [Evans] will pardon me." Bundy insisted, clearly made uneasy by his lawyer's silence and grim expression.

No such pardon was coming. Not in a million years. It took the White House Press Secretary exactly three hours after Bundy's arrest to draft a statement condemning him as a murderer, a charlatan and an overall degenerate. President Evans offered his deepest condolences and apologies to the victims. It was all he could really do. He was heartbroken, betrayed and distraught, his trust in Bundy shattered into a million pieces.

Learning this from an isolated cell (the police feared he would be murdered by the other prisoners if he was put in a general population holding cell) Bundy felt something snap inside of himself. When the police came to ask questions, he dismissed his lawyer.

"He knew." Bundy said calmly.

"Who did?" Asked the officer leading the investigation.

"The President," Bundy said, "he knew."

This assertion made by Bundy was almost certainly a lie, but it had an unpleasant tinge of truth to it. Representatives of the D.C. police department had come to President Evans to share their concerns about allegations being made about Bundy. This had been mostly to assure the President that they didn't believe a word of it, but the nuance of the meeting hardly mattered...and the police weren't about to clarify, not when it turned out that they had been badly wrong.

The overall image that spun clear of the chaos was that Evans had known the police were looking into Bundy...and had decided to trust Bundy anyway. And as a result of that decision there were now eleven people dead and one more in what was probably a permanent coma.

Evans' approvals imploded. The North Vietnamese negotiations continued, but hardly anyone was following them. A major administration official, a close friend of the President, was a serial killer. And not only a serial killer, but perhaps one that had killed as many as twenty or even thirty people all across the country. Police departments all over America traced where Bundy had been throughout the 1972 campaign and reopened cold cases. The number of possible murders attributed to Bundy exploded briefly into the triple digits before being weaned down to a more reasonable (but still horrifying) thirty four cases.

Bundy, caught dead to rights and with no possibility of escape or pardon or bail, confessed outright to twenty one of them...the murders the police already had photographic proof of. His total confessions, covering method, location and rationale, would last for more than one hundred hours.

Meanwhile, the President strenuously denied any wrongdoing with regards to Bundy. If he was guilty of collaborating with Bundy, then so was the entire press pool, and the entire White House beyond that. Already resignations amongst staffers were in the double digits, and rising daily. The Evans administration was sinking, and nobody wanted to be onboard when the sea finally came rushing in.

On May 30, 1974, a little less than two weeks after Bundy's arrest and the subsequent implosion of President Evans' administration, congressional leaders (mostly Democrat, but with some stray Republicans attached) privately told the White House that they would likely be pursuing impeachment, and every indication spoke of them having the votes to do it.

Evans lingered for a day more, then resigned on August 1st, a broken man.

This left Vice President Robert Ray, formerly the Governor of Iowa, in charge of a deeply traumatized nation. Ray immediately announced his intention to be nothing more than a caretaker President, and explicitly denied that he would be running in the 1976 election. Everyone and everything in the Evans administration, he all but outright stated, had been tainted by the Bundy scandal and could not be expected to carry the country any further forward than the previous election had dictated.

He then settled down, determined to be as quiet and unoffensive as possible. This didn't stop some congressional Democrats from openly wondering if maybe he had known about Bundy as well, but Bundy said nothing. Ray didn't interest him, all he had wanted to do was destroy Evans in retaliation for the President's 'betrayal' of him. Now that that was done, Bundy focused on facing his upcoming murder trial. There were existing motions to extradite him to states that had the death penalty, so that he could be sent to the gas chamber...but for the moment all of that was up in the air.

President Ray, seeking stability, selected Senate Minority Whip Robert Griffin to serve as his Vice President. Griffin reluctantly gave up his Senate seat to answer the call, deciding that it was more important to help stabilize an ailing country than it was to pursue more political power.

Ray's caretaker term was largely quiet. The negotiations with the North Vietnamese ended with a fairly lukewarm peace between the two Vietnams. In practice this meant a return to more or less the status quo...though the NVA was no longer allowed to openly attack ARVN or American installations. The VietCong were left more or less to their own devices, though they remained heavily supplied by Hanoi. In return, American bombers no longer darkened the skies over North Vietnam, and the country cautiously began to rebuild.

Ted Bundy's trial was broadcast all across the nation. At first the former Deputy Press Secretary attempted to charm his way out of trouble, then he halfheartedly attempted an insanity plea. But the conclusion was foregone the moment the judge called the trial to order. Bundy was sentenced to twenty one life sentences, to be served consecutively, with no possibility of parole. He would be murdered by his fellow inmates (allegedly with the aid of at least one guard) in 1975, after less than a year in prison.

The 1976 election, like the Bundy trial, was almost foregone. The nation knew that the Democrats would win. The Republicans knew that the Democrats would win. And, most importantly, the Democrats knew that they were going to win. With President Ray and Vice President Griffin having already vowed to sit the election out (which many Republicans thought was a real shame, since Ray was really a pretty good commander in chief) the Republican bench was only halfheartedly filled, mostly by conservative Republicans determined to shut the Rockefeller branch out for good.

Former California Governor Ronald Reagan immediately took an early lead with Republicans, espousing optimism and a crackdown on crime. He dueled with Kansas Senator Bob Dole and a handful of others...which allowed the genial Tennessee Senator Howard Baker to take advantage of the split conservative vote and win the nomination on the first ballot. While Reagan showed no interest in serving as Baker's running mate (which Baker immediately asked him to do), he did suggest one figure who he quite liked.

That figure, Gerald Ford, also gently declined, but in turn brainstormed with Reagan and Baker to select a good conservative running mate. Someone strong on crime and defense, and from a key state.

Yes, they agreed. Donald Rumsfeld would be their man.

The Democratic race was simpler, sewn up by former Vice President Fred Harris before the primaries were even halfway over. Beating a handful of others, he settled into position as the party's presumed nominee but remained short of a veep, genuinely unsure who to choose. Initially wanting to simply let the delegates decide, Harris accepted his nomination and then settled back to listen to the keynote speech, which was to be given by a congresswoman from Texas, Barbara Jordan.

Harris knew of Jordan but had been out of congress during her time in it. The keynote was the first time he's ever heard her speak and he was immediately transfixed. Glancing to his campaign manager, Harris nudged his shoulder.

"Her," he said excitedly, "we're picking her."

Though some campaign officials were concerned by the idea of picking a black woman to serve on a major party ticket, Harris bulldozed them aside and, propelled in part by her magnificent speech, Barbara Jordan became the first minority and first woman to ever be nominated on a major party ticket in the United States.

The campaign was pleasant and restrained. Nobody wanted to talk much about the Evans administration or Bundy or any of the mess. Instead there was talk of the future, of fixing problems and reforming the government. And on that front Harris was energized. He crisscrossed the country in a van, eschewing private planes and campaign trains. He denounced corporate greed and espoused a sort of left wing populism that most people thought had died with Huey Long and the Great Depression. But amidst the denizens of a shocked, traumatized post-Bundy post-Evans America, that sort of talk found purchase. Here was a man who was going to fix it. And he wouldn't bring aboard mass murderers to help him do it.

Though Baker tried very very hard, the Tennessee Senator knew in his heart that he was never going to win. Rumsfeld was more disappointed in the loss than he was, the Illinois congressman sighing sharply before turning and walking briskly out. Baker conceded gracefully, and went to watch Harris begin his work to, as his campaign slogan promised, make America great.

Former Vice President Fred Harris/Congresswoman Barbara Jordan - 389 EV 53.1% PV
Senator Howard Baker/Congressman Donald Rumsfeld - 149 EV 46.9% PV