PHOENIX - Trailing in the polls as the GOP presidential nominee, the Arizona senator returned to his home state to vote.
"Then I'm going to take a long walk in the desert," he told The Arizona Republic. "I also have some cactus that needs planting."
And Barry Goldwater did just that on Nov. 3, 1964, standing at Phoenix Country Day School for an hour and 20 minutes because he refused to cut in line to vote. After a walk near Squaw Peak and puttering around his Paradise Valley home, he made a hamburger.
"My father went to bed early and didn't say anything until the next day," said his son, Barry Goldwater Jr., who was 26 at the time.
Goldwater awoke to learn the full extent of the landslide for President Lyndon B. Johnson: 43 million to 27 million in the popular vote, 486 to 52 in the Electoral College.
As he prepared to retire from the U.S. Senate in 1986, Goldwater said he considered the outcome inevitable after President John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963.
"I think the basic reason was that the country wasn't ready, and I don't think they'd ever be ready, to have three presidents in two years," he told The Phoenix Gazette.
However, Goldwater told the Gazette, his failed campaign wrested control of the Republican Party from an East Coast contingent whose ideas he said weren't broad enough to encompass the challenges facing the West.
His campaign also is credited with helping launch the rise of the Republican right, providing a platform for his conservative principles that influenced Arizona's next presidential nominee, John McCain, who succeeded Goldwater in the Senate.
McCain also was to return to Arizona as well for election day. He was scheduled to wrap up his campaign this evening in Prescott as a tribute to Goldwater, who traditionally launched his campaigns there and ended in Fredonia.
The Camelback Inn in Scottsdale was the site of the Goldwater party on election night, though his son said Goldwater didn't attend. The party this Tuesday will be at Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa in Phoenix, near McCain's home.
A representative said the hotel has been sold out for some time, and news media satellite trucks began arriving at the hotel Friday.
"We're expecting hundreds and hundreds of people to swing by, including some of the celebrities who are endorsing him," said Ivette Barajas, a spokeswoman for the McCain campaign.