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Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater was the Republican Party's nominee in the 1964 presidential election. His main rival in the primary elections was Norman Rockefeller, governor of New York. Goldwater selected William Miller, a little-known Congressman from New York, as his running mate. Goldwater stated that he chose Miller because he "drove [incumbent President] Johnson nuts".
During the general election campaign, the Republican party was divided between its more moderate and liberal faction, based in the Northeast, and the more conservative side, located primarily in the South and West. Conservatives who supported Goldwater were resentful of how the moderate and Northeasterners had dominated the party. They preferred a smaller federal government and lower taxes, opposing social welfare programs. Moderate Republicans were concerned with Goldwater's rhetoric on nuclear weapons and some Americans considered him to be a dangerous extremist.
Incumbent President Lyndon Johnson defeated the Goldwater/Miller ticket in a landslide on Election Day, carrying 44 of 50 states and the District of Columbia.