A reader writes:
Kennedy/Johnson and Obama/Clinton don't compare. Johnson was not a serious contender for the presidency against Kennedy in the way that Clinton is against Obama. The "hatred" between Kennedy and Johnson was ideological and political but not formed in battle, so to speak, as is the case with Obama and Clinton. Kennedy's major opponent was not Lyndon Johnson. It was Hubert Humphrey. And even then, one has to use "major opponent" loosely. Kennedy steamrolled everyone in the primaries. Kennedy racked up 85 percent of the vote in NH, 64 percent in IL, 92 percent in MA, 71 percent in PA, 81 percent in IN, 88 percent in NB, and 70 percent in MD. Another thing is that Humphrey wasn't even a consistent second place contender for the presidency. He ran second to Kennedy only in Wisconsin (Kennedy 56.5/Humphrey 43.5) and West Virginia (Kennedy 60.8/Humphrey 39.2). The only contests Humphrey won were DC and South Dakota where Kennedy, apparently, was not on the ballot. Johnson's biggest vote total in the 1960 primaries was 3.9 percent.
Humphrey's totals in the other primaries was usually in the low single digits. When Humphrey dropped out Lyndon Johnson was considered the only serious contender but again "serious" has to be used loosely. In the primaries, Johnson was a statistical nothing. The only reason that Humphrey and Johnson were favored is because, in spite of the primaries, the smoke-filled room was still the way things were done and party bosses really chose the nominee and that's where I see a comparison between the election 1960 and election 2008. The party bosses could not ignore Kennedy's impressive primary wins much as the superdelegates will not be able to ignore Obama's admittedly less impressive pledged delegate and popular vote lead.