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Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater was the Republican Party's nominee in the 1964 presidential election. Goldwater's political career began when he was elected to the City Council in Phoenix in 1949. He helped to rebuild the Republican Party in Arizona and contributed a great deal to the election of Howard Pyle as governor in 1950. He first won a Senate seat in 1952, upsetting the Senate Majority leader Ernest McFarland. Goldwater defeated McFarland again in 1958, during a year in which Democrats gained 13 seats in the Senate. He gave up his bid for re-election to the Senate in 1964 to pursue the presidency.
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.