The Elections of 1952 and 1956


Dwight Eisenhower (442 Electoral Votes)
Adlai Stevenson (89 Electoral Votes)

Dwight Eisenhower (457 Electoral Votes)
Adlai Stevenson (73 Electoral Votes)

After twenty years out of power, and especially after the surprising loss in 1948, the Republican Party was hungry in 1952.  The Republican convention therefore turned to a venerable tactic in American presidential politics by nominating a successful and popular general, Dwight D. Eisenhower.  Eisenhower was able to win the nomination narrowly from conservative favorite Robert Taft because he was (unlike Taft) neither an outspoken opponent of the New Deal domestically nor an isolationist in foreign policy.  Eisenhower’s promise to end the unpopular Korean War (“I will go to Korea”), his World War II record, and his instant credibility as a potential president gave him an easy victory over the Democratic nominee, the eloquent governor of Illinois, Adlai Stevenson.  The only problem for the Republicans was the disclosure that the nominee for Vice President, a young Richard Nixon, had used a fund donated by California millionaires for personal expenses.  In one of the great “what-if’s” (we already wouldn’t have had Nixon to kick around any more) in American political history, Nixon had nearly lost his place on the ticket when he won over public sympathy with his notorious “Checkers” speech.  Despite a heart attack, Eisenhower easily won reelection four years later in a reprise of the 1952 campaign.  Otherwise, the only notable feature of the 1956 campaign was the emergence of John F. Kennedy as a national figure when he competed for the nomination as Adlai Stevenson’s running mate at the Democratic convention.

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