The modern primary evolved in response to the 1968 Democratic Convention, which turned violent. The majority of delegates supported Vice President Hubert Humphrey, even though he had not won a single primary. Meanwhile, 80 percent of primary voters cast ballots for anti-war candidates, Senators Eugene McCarthy and Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated just prior to the convention. Demonstrators, who believed Humphrey would continue President Lyndon Johnsonís involvement in the Vietnam War, protested both inside and outside the convention.

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