80th Congress—Party Alignment (1947-1949)
Senate: Repub 51; Dems 45
House: Repub 246; Dems 188
Congress passes over President Truman’s veto the Taft-Hartley Act, which in part, restrains unions’ abilities to strike
The Political Conventions of 1948
Nominated:Harry S. Truman of
The Democratic party was un-enthusiastic about nominating Truman in 1948 and some in the party attempted to get General Eisehower to agree to be drafted; when he refused, the party rallied around Truman. The most notable event at the convention was the controversy over states rights and integration. Southern delegates wanted a very strong platform in support of state rights. Instead, the Democratic party endorses civil rights platform, prompting Southern delegates to walk out and form the States Rights Democratic Party (better known as the Dixiecrats), which nominated Strom Thurmond as presidential candidate.
photo by Lisa Larsen
Democratic National Convention, Philadelphia, July
Harry S. Truman (left) and Alben W. Barkley clasp hands as they are introduced to convention at 1:45 AM by Sam Rayburn, Permanent Convention Chairman. Truman and Barkley, the Democratic nominees, eventually won the presidency.
Television covered the 1948 convention for the first time: [from: http://www.personal.kent.edu/~glhanson/studyguides/sg_politics.htm]
Nominated: Thomas E Dewey for President; Earl Warren of
In 1948 there were three serious candidates for the Republican nomination: Robert Taft, Harold Stassen, and Thomas Dewey. Stassen stumbled in a primary debate and when the convention opened only Taft and Dewey were serious contenders. Dewey won the nomination on the third ballot.
photo by Ralph Morse/LIFE
Republican National Convention, Philadelphia, June
Marchers from Buffalo, New York, parade down the aisle in tall gray top hats, swallow-tail coats and striped pants to join a Dewey demonstration on the convention floor. Thomas E. Dewey and running mate Earl Warren won the Republican presidential nomination.
Press aboard campaign train, 1948 (HST Library)
The Election of 1948
On Election Night, newspapers were ready to declare Dewey
the winner. But Truman won an amazing upset victory. Thurmond's candidacy only
hurt in states where state officials replaced Truman's name with Thurmond's.
This occured in four states:
Four Southern States: Dixiecrat Party (part of conservative coalition)
“Dewey Defeats Truman” in the Paper
81st Congress—Party Alignment (1949-1951)
Senate: Dems 54; Repub 42
House: Dems 263; Repub 171
82nd Congress—Party Alignment (1951-1953)
Senate: Dems 49; Repub 47
The Political Conventions of 1952
Republican National Convention
Nominated: Dwight D Eisenhower for President; Richard M Nixon of
General Eisenhower had entered the Presidential race late. By the time he had Robert Taft had won many of the early primaries. Eisenhower rapidly came close to reaching parity with Taft in delegates. Taft delegates however, still outnumbered Eisenhower delegates, so Eisenshower’s campaign resorted to challenging the credentials of some of the delegates. They ran a public relations campaign whose theme was old politicians who made backroom deals with the new statesmanship of Eisenhower. The challenges succeeded and Eisenhower was only nine delegates short on the first vote. On the second vote Eisenhower won the nominations.
Richard Nixon goes on television with his “Checkers” speech and saves his nomination for vice-president. (see Richard M. Nixon)
Dwight D. Eisenhower (left) and running mate Richard M. Nixon (right) celebrate their nomination with their wives, Mamie and Pat, at the 25th Republican convention.
"I Like Ike," Dwight D. Eisenhower campaign song
Like Ike" from the recording entitled Presidential Campaign Songs
1789-1996, Folkways 45051, provided courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. © 1999.
Used by permission.
Words and music: Irving Berlin/Irving Berlin Music Corp., ASCAP
… Irving Berlin’s rousing hit for the 1950 musical "Call Me Madam" made a perfect campaign song for both terms.
"I Like Ike
I’ll shout it over a mike
Or a phone
Or from the highest steeple
I Like Ike
And Ike is easy to like
The choice of we the people …"
Democratic National Convention,
Having watched the Republicans on television, Democratic
leaders made some scheduling changes in their convention to accommodate the new
medium. President Truman supported
Governor Adlai Stevenson of
photo by George Silk/LIFE
Adlai E. Stevenson: Speech Accepting the Democratic
Presidential Nomination delivered
With Wisconsin Governor Kohler
looking on, 1952 presidential candidate Eisenhower and Senator McCarthy shake
September, 1952: Nixon’s Checkers Speech (see Richard M. Nixon for more detail and context)
See this link for the text and a portion of the broadcast: http://www.watergate.info/nixon/checkers-speech.shtml
The Election of 1952
Stevenson's liberal embrace of civil rights did not please
Southern Democrats, and consequently the results in the South were closer than
ever before, with the Republican ticket picking up Texas, Oklahoma, Florida,
Virginia, and Tennessee. Outside of the South, Stevenson won nothing, but he
lost narrowly in
83rd Congress—Party Alignment (1953-1955)
Senate: Repub 48; Dems 47; 1 independent [Note: 9 Senators died and one resigned during this congress. By December 1955: 46 Repub; 47 Dems; 1 independent; one vacancy]
House: Repub 221; Dems 213; 1 independent
84th Congress—Party Alignment (1955-1957)
Senate: Dems 48; Repub 47 ; 1 independent
House: Dems 232; Repub 203
The Democrats maintained control of both houses of Congress from 1955 until the 1980s.
The Political Conventions of 1956
“By 1956, both parties
further amended their convention programs to better fit the demands of
television coverage. Party officials condensed the length of the convention,
created uniform campaign themes for each party, adorned convention halls with
banners and patriotic decorations, placed television crews in positions with
flattering views of the proceedings, dropped daytime sessions, limited
welcoming speeches and parliamentary organization procedures, scheduled
sessions to reach a maximum audience in prime time, and eliminated seconding speeches
for vice presidential candidates. Additionally, the presence of television
cameras encouraged parties to conceal intra-party battling and choose
geographic host cities amenable to their party.” [
Nominated:Adlai E Stevenson
With President’s Eisenhower,’s popularity high there were few who wished to run as the Democratic nominee. Stevenson however, wanted another chance to run against the President. When Eisenhower suffered a heart attack and his health was in some doubt- Averall Hariman decided to challenge Stevenson. Despite support from Truman, Harriman was unable to mount a credible challenge and Stevenson was elected on the first ballot.
The real drama at the convention was the selection of a Vice Presidential nominee. Going into the convention there was talk of selecting Senator Kennedy as Stevenson’s running mate. Instead Stevenson decided to open the selection to the convention in an open vote. Kennedy came close but fell short in the first ballot in securing the nomination. Kefauver then came from behind won the prize.
Prior to the convention,
there was a movement among the more moderate Republicans to “dump Nixon.” For an editorial on the decision to retain
Nixon on the 1956 ticket, see The Nation
Nominated: Dwight D Eisenhower for President; Richard M
Eisnehower was renominated by acclamation.
August 1956 Human billboards parade in support of
Republican nominee Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The incumbent president was re-nominated unanimously
on the first convention ballot.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower (right) and running mate Richard M. Nixon celebrate with their wives after their nomination to run for a second term.
The Election of 1956
The Stevenson-Kefauver ticket became the last until 1972
where the homestates of both candidates went to the
other ticket. The only state Stevenson gained was
85th Congress—Party Alignment (1957-1959)
Senate: Dems 49; Repub 47
House: Dems 234; Repub 201
86th Congress—Party Alignment (1959-1961)
Senate: Dems 65; Repub 35
House: Dems 283; Repub 153
The Political Conventions of 1960
Nominated: John F Kennedy of
Senator Kennedy had worked tirelessly for the nomination since the 1956 election. Kennedy had won the majority of the primaries. Just before the convention Senator Johnson, the Majority Leader of the Senate, announced his intention to seek the nomination. Kennedy entered the convention with the majority of the delegates pledged to vote for him. Kennedy’s supporters worked tirelessly to ensure that the delegates stayed committed. Their hard work paid off and Kennedy won on the first ballot. Kennedy made a surprise selection of Johnson as his Vice Presidential running mate. 1960 represented the end of an era: It was the last time that there was true drama in a Democratic convention. Since 1960 the outcomes of the convention have been well known in advance.
photo by Ralph Crane/LIFE
Democratic National Convention,
Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy’s forces nail down the victory for the presidential nomination. The Democratic civil rights plank was the party’s strongest to date.
Nominated: Richard M Nixon of
By the time the Republican convention opened, Richard Nixon had no opponents for the nomination. The highlight of the convention was the speech by Barry Goldwater removing himself from the race where he called on the Conservatives to take back the party.
Republican National Convention, Chicago, July 1960
Hand in hand and buoyant, Vice President Richard M. Nixon and his wife, Pat, greet a
First Televised Presidential Debates
“In substance, the
candidates were much more evenly matched. Indeed, those [70 million] who heard
the first debate [Sept. 26] on the radio pronounced Nixon the winner. But the
70 million who watched television saw a candidate still sickly [Nixon had been
in the hospital for 2 weeks with a knee injury] and obviously discomforted by
Kennedy’s smooth delivery and charisma. Those television viewers focused on
what they saw, not what they heard. Studies of the audience indicated that,
among television viewers, Kennedy was perceived the winner of the first debate
by a very large margin.” [
"Buckle Down with Nixon," Richard M. Nixon campaign song
"Buckle Down With Nixon"
from the recording entitled Presidential Campaign Songs 1789-1996,
Folkways 45051, provided courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. © 1999. Used
Parody based upon the original work "Buckle Down, Winsocki," R. Blane-H. Matin/Chappel & Co., ASCAP
Nixon’s adroit foreign policy was hailed in his campaign song, a "football-type" anthem written for the Broadway musical "One-Step Forward."
"…He has friends everywhere
Over here, over there
What a president he’ll make for you and me
Buckle down with Nixon,
We can win with Nixon
If we buckle down
He has set the pace
We will win the race
Yes we’ll win the race
With a Nixon victory…"
The final election was extremely
close. Nixon believed that
The Election of 1960
87th Congress—Party Alignment (1961-1963)
Senate: Dems 64; Repub 36
House: Dems 263; Repub 174