1972 Presidential election
McGovern's campaign manager in the 1972 election was future United States Senator Gary Hart. McGovern ran on a platform that advocated unilateral withdrawal from the Vietnam War in exchange for the return of American prisoners of war [White p. 122] and amnesty for draft evaders who had left the country [White p. 360], an "anti-war" platform that was presaged in 1970 by McGovern's sponsorship of the McGovern-Hatfield amendment, seeking to end U.S. participation in the war by Congressional action.
Other planks of McGovern's platform included an across-the-board, 37% reduction in defense spending over three years [White p. 123], a "demogrant" program giving $1,000 to every citizen in America [White p. 125], that was later changed to creating a $6,500 guaranteed minimum income for Americans, and was later dropped from the platform [White p. 190]. In addition, McGovern supported ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.
Main article: Thomas Eagleton
During the campaign, it became known that McGovern's running-mate, Thomas Eagleton, had received electroshock therapy for depression, and the resulting negative attention caused McGovern to drop Eagleton from the ticket, replacing him with Sargent Shriver.
McGovern struggled to gain the support of establishment Democratic figures, and was viewed by many voters as unacceptably radical. In the general election, the McGovern/Shriver ticket suffered a 60%–38% defeat to incumbent President Richard Nixon — at the time the second biggest landslide in American history, with Electoral College totals of 520 to 17. McGovern's two electoral vote victories came in Massachusetts and the District of Columbia; McGovern failed to win his home state of South Dakota.