United States presidential election, 1944
|Presidential election results map. Red denotes states won by Dewey/Bricker, Blue denotes those won by Roosevelt/Truman. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state.|
The United States presidential election of 1944 was the 40th quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 7, 1944. During this time, the United States was preoccupied with fighting World War II. President Franklin D. Roosevelt had been in office longer than any other president, but remained popular. Unlike in 1940, there was little doubt that Roosevelt would run for another term as the Democratic candidate. His Republican opponent was Governor of New York Thomas E. Dewey. Dewey ran an energetic campaign, but Roosevelt prevailed.
As of 2012, this was the last election in which the Democratic candidate carried every Southern state. It was also the first election in which one of the major party candidates was born in the 20th century. In addition, it was the last election until 2012 in which neither of the major parties' candidates had any military experience.
- Governor Thomas E. Dewey of New York
- Governor John W. Bricker of Ohio
- Representative Everett Dirksen of Illinois
- General Douglas MacArthur of New York
- Former Governor Harold Stassen of Minnesota
- Businessman Wendell Willkie of New York
Businessman Wendell Willkie of New York
As 1944 began, the frontrunners for the Republican nomination appeared to be Wendell Willkie, the party's 1940 candidate, Senator Robert Taft of Ohio, the leader of the party's conservatives, New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey, the leader of the party's moderate eastern establishment, General Douglas MacArthur, then serving as an Allied commander in the Pacific theater of the war, and former Minnesota Governor Harold Stassen, then serving as a U.S. naval officer in the Pacific. Taft surprised many by announcing that he was not a candidate; instead, he voiced his support for a fellow conservative, Governor John W. Bricker of Ohio. With Taft out of the race some Republican conservatives favored General MacArthur. However, MacArthur's chances were limited by the fact that he was leading Allied forces against Japan, and thus could not campaign for the nomination. His supporters entered his name in the Wisconsin primary nonetheless. The Wisconsin primary proved to be the key contest, as Dewey won by a surprisingly wide margin. He took 14 delegates to four for Harold Stassen, while MacArthur won the three remaining delegates. Willkie was shut out in the Wisconsin primary; he did not win a single delegate. His unexpectedly poor showing in Wisconsin forced him to withdraw as a candidate for the nomination. At the 1944 Republican National Convention in Chicago, Illinois, Dewey easily overcame Bricker and was nominated on the first ballot. In a bid to maintain party unity, Dewey, a moderate, chose the conservative Bricker as his running mate. Bricker was nominated by acclamation.
Democratic Party nomination
- Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States from New York
Roosevelt was a popular, war-time incumbent and faced little formal opposition. Although a growing number of the party's conservatives—especially in the South—had grown increasingly skeptical of Roosevelt's economic and social policies, few of them dared to oppose Roosevelt publicly, and he was re-nominated easily when the Democratic Convention met in Chicago.
Although the party's conservatives could not stop Roosevelt from winning the nomination, the obvious physical decline in the president's appearance, as well as rumors of secret health problems, led many delegates and party leaders to oppose Henry A. Wallace strongly for vice-president. Wallace, who was Roosevelt's second vice- president, was regarded by most conservatives as being too left-wing and personally eccentric to be next in line for the presidency. Many Democrats were uneasy with Wallace's New Age spiritual beliefs and by the fact that he had written coded letters discussing prominent politicians (such as Roosevelt and Winston Churchill) to his controversial Russian spiritual guru, Nicholas Roerich. Numerous party leaders privately told Roosevelt that they would fight Wallace's re-nomination as vice-president and proposed Missouri Senator Harry S. Truman, a moderate who had gained favorable publicity as the chairman of a Senate wartime investigating committee, as Roosevelt's new running mate. Roosevelt, who personally liked Wallace and knew little about Truman, reluctantly agreed to accept Truman as his vice-presidential candidate to preserve party unity. Even so, many liberal delegates refused to abandon Wallace, and they cast their votes for him on the first ballot. However, enough large Northern, Midwestern, and Southern states supported Truman to give him victory on the second ballot. The fight over the vice-presidential nomination proved to be historic, as Roosevelt's declining health led to his death in April 1945, and Truman became the nation's 33rd President instead of Wallace.
|Vice Presidential Ballot|
|Ballot||1st||2nd Before Shifts||2nd After Shifts|
|Harry S. Truman||319.5||477.5||1,031|
|Henry A. Wallace||429.5||473||105|
|John H. Bankhead||98||23.5||0|
|Scott W. Lucas||61||58||0|
|Alben W. Barkley||49.5||40||6|
|J. Melville Broughton||43||30||0|
|Paul V. McNutt||31||28||1|
Source: Richard C. Bain & Judith H. Parris, Convention Decisions and Voting Records (Washington DC: The Brookings Institution, 1973), pp. 266–267.
The Fall Campaign
The Republicans campaigned against the New Deal, seeking a smaller government and less-regulated economy as the end of the war seemed in sight. Nonetheless, Roosevelt's continuing popularity was the main theme of the campaign. To quiet rumors of his poor health, Roosevelt insisted on making a vigorous campaign swing in October and rode in an open car through city streets. A high point of the campaign occurred when Roosevelt, speaking to a meeting of labor union leaders, gave a speech carried on national radio in which he ridiculed Republican claims that his administration was corrupt and wasteful with tax money. He particularly ridiculed a Republican claim that he had sent a US Navy warship to pick up his Scottish Terrier Fala in Alaska, noting that "Fala was furious" at such rumors. The speech was met with loud laughter and applause from the labor leaders. In response, Dewey gave a blistering partisan speech in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, a few days later on national radio, in which he accused Roosevelt of being "indispensable" to corrupt big-city Democratic organizations and American Communists; he also referred to members of Roosevelt's cabinet as a "motley crew". However, American battlefield successes in Europe and the Pacific during the campaign, such as the liberation of Paris in August 1944 and the successful Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Philippines in October 1944, made Roosevelt unbeatable.
Throughout the campaign, Roosevelt led Dewey in all the polls by various margins. In the election on November 7, 1944, Roosevelt scored a fairly comfortable victory over Dewey. Roosevelt took 36 states for 432 electoral votes, while Dewey won 12 states and 99 electoral votes (266 were needed to win). In the popular vote Roosevelt won 25,612,916 votes to Dewey's 22,017,929. Dewey did better against Roosevelt than any of Roosevelt's previous three Republican opponents, and he did have the personal satisfaction of beating Roosevelt in his hometown of Hyde Park, New York, and of winning Truman's hometown of Independence, Missouri. Dewey would again be the Republican presidential nominee in 1948 and would again lose, though by a much smaller margin.
As he had in 1940, Roosevelt won re-election with a lower percentage of both the electoral vote and the popular vote than he had received in the prior elections—the second of only three presidents in US history to do so, preceded by James Madison in 1812 and followed by Barack Obama in 2012. Andrew Jackson in 1832 and Grover Cleveland in 1892 had received more electoral votes but fewer popular votes, while Woodrow Wilson in 1916 had received more popular votes but fewer electoral votes.
|Presidential candidate||Party||Home state||Popular vote||Electoral
|Count||Pct||Vice-presidential candidate||Home state||Elect. vote|
|Franklin D. Roosevelt||Democratic||New York||25,612,916||53.39%||432||Harry S. Truman||Missouri||432|
|Thomas E. Dewey||Republican||New York||22,017,929||45.89%||99||John W. Bricker||Ohio||99|
|Norman Thomas||Socialist||New York||79,017||0.16%||0||Darlington Hoopes||Pennsylvania||0|
|Claude A. Watson||Prohibition||California||74,758||0.16%||0||Andrew N. Johnson||Kentucky||0|
|Edward A. Teichert||Socialist Labor||Pennsylvania||45,188||0.09%||0||Arla Arbaugh||Ohio||0|
|Needed to win||266||266|
Source (Popular Vote): Leip, David. 1944 Presidential Election Results. Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections (August 1, 2005).Source (Electoral Vote): Electoral College Box Scores 1789–1996. Official website of the National Archives. (August 1, 2005).
Results by state
|States won by Roosevelt/Truman|
|States won by Dewey/Bricker|
|Franklin D. Roosevelt
|Thomas E. Dewey
Margin of victory less than 5% (190 electoral votes):
- Ohio, 0.37%
- Michigan, 1.02%
- New Jersey, 1.35%
- Wisconsin, 1.80%
- Wyoming, 2.47%
- Pennsylvania, 2.78%
- Missouri, 2.94%
- Illinois, 3.47%
- Idaho, 3.49%
- Maryland, 3.70%
- New Hampshire, 4.24%
- Iowa, 4.50%
- Oregon, 4.85%
- Maine, 4.99%
Margin of victory between 5% and 10% (138 electoral votes):
- New York, 5.01%
- Connecticut, 5.36%
- Minnesota, 5.55%
- Indiana, 5.65%
- Massachusetts, 5.81%
- Colorado, 6.81%
- New Mexico, 7.03%
- North Dakota, 8.35%
- Delaware, 9.11%
- Kentucky, 9.23%
- Nevada, 9.24%
- Montana, 9.35%
- West Virginia, 9.78%
- The 1944 election was the first since Grover Cleveland's re-election in 1892 in which the bellwether state of Ohio backed a losing candidate.
- The 1944 election was the last election in which any candidate received over 90% of the vote in any state (FDR won 94% of votes cast in Mississippi).
- The passing of the 22nd Amendment of the United States Constitution in 1951 renders this election the only occasion in United States history in which a candidate has been allowed to run for a fourth term as president.
- The 1944 presidential race was the only one in history where both candidates hailed from the same county. Roosevelt's home was in Hyde Park, New York. Dewey called Pawling, New York home. Both are in Dutchess County.
- This was the first election since 1900 when Idaho and Wyoming did not vote the same as each other, and the last to date.
- Had Dewey won the 1944 election, he would have become the youngest president in U.S. history, being 20 days younger (as of January 20, 1945) than Theodore Roosevelt, when he took office in 1901 upon the assassination of William McKinley.
- The 1944 presidential election was the last election in which the Democratic party candidate won every single state that comprised the Confederacy.
- President of the United States
- United States Senate elections, 1944
- United States home front during World War II
- Hell-Bent for Election, an animated Roosevelt campaign film.
- "1944 Presidential General Election Data - National". Retrieved April 14, 2013.
- Cantril, Hadley and Mildred Strunk, eds.; Public Opinion, 1935-1946 (1951), massive compilation of many public opinion polls from USA
- Gallup, George Horace, ed. The Gallup Poll; Public Opinion, 1935-1971 3 vol (1972) esp vol 1; summarizes results of each poll as reported to newspapers
- Jordan, David M. FDR, Dewey, and the Election of 1944 (Indiana U.P. 2011)
- Smith, Richard Norton. Thomas E. Dewey and His Times (1984), the standard scholarly biography
- 1944 popular vote by counties
- How close was the 1944 election? — Michael Sheppard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology