My impression is that he [Goldwater] brought in a whole group of young activist Republicans that became committed and involved during that period of time. And that was really the heart that built the [Republican] Party through '72. It was also part of the group that was hit hard by Watergate because they had a vision that a Republican would really make a difference. That we were just that much better than the Democrats, that we really would change the world, that we really would be more honest, that we really would accomplish more.
Despite his immense popularity in the November election, Nixon’s reputation would soon take a massive downturn. In June 1972, five men had been arrested for burglarizing the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in Washington’s Watergate Hotel. Investigations revealed that this robbery had been authorized by the presidency and was just one of many illegal activities carried out by Nixon and his staff. The political scandal that followed is known as Watergate. It resulted in the indictment of several of the President’s closest advisors and Nixon’s eventual resignation on August 9, 1974.
Republican conservatism, on the rise since Goldwater’s 1964 campaign, was hit hard by the Watergate scandal. This setback is seen as a temporary reversal of the Republican Party’s growing southern dominance. In the 1976 presidential campaign, southern Democrat Jimmy Carter won broad support from both African American and white voters throughout the South.