United States presidential election, 1956

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United States presidential election, 1956
United States
1952 ←
November 6, 1956
→ 1960

All 531 electoral votes of the Electoral College
266 electoral votes needed to win
 

Eisenhower official.jpg

AdlaiEStevenson1900-1965.jpg

Nominee Dwight D. Eisenhower Adlai Stevenson
Party Republican Democratic
Home state Kansas Illinois
Running mate Richard Nixon Estes Kefauver
Electoral vote 457 73
States carried 41 7
Popular vote 35,579,180 26,028,028
Percentage 57.4% 42.0%

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About this image
Presidential election results map. Red denotes states won by Eisenhower/Nixon, Blue denotes those won by Stevenson/Kefauver. Orange is the electoral vote for Walter Burgwyn Jones by an Alabama faithless elector. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state.

President before election

Dwight D. Eisenhower
Republican

Elected President

Dwight D. Eisenhower
Republican

The United States presidential election of 1956 was the 43rd quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 6, 1956. The popular incumbent President, Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower, successfully ran for re-election. The election was a re-match of 1952, as Eisenhower's opponent in 1956 was former Governor of Illinois Adlai Stevenson, whom Eisenhower had defeated four years earlier.

Eisenhower was popular, but had health conditions that became a quiet issue. Stevenson remained popular with a core of liberal Democrats, but held no office and had no real base. He (and Eisenhower) largely ignored the subject of civil rights. Eisenhower had ended the Korean War and the nation was prosperous, so a landslide for the charismatic Eisenhower was never in doubt.

This was the last presidential election before the admissions of Alaska and Hawaii, which would participate for the first time as states in the 1960 presidential election. It was also the last election in which any of the major candidates was born in the 19th century, or were both renominated for a rematch of the previous presidential election.

Nominations[edit]

Republican Party[edit]

Republican candidates

Early in 1956 there was speculation that Eisenhower would not run for a second term because of concerns about his health. In 1955, Eisenhower had suffered a serious heart attack, and in early 1956 he underwent surgery for ileitis. However, he quickly recovered after both incidents, and after being cleared by his doctors, he decided to run for a second term. Given Eisenhower's enormous popularity, he was re-nominated with no opposition at the 1956 Republican National Convention in San Francisco, California.

The only question among Republicans was whether Vice-President Richard Nixon would again be Eisenhower's running mate. There is some evidence that Eisenhower would have preferred a less controversial running mate, such as Governor Christian Herter of Massachusetts, and according to some historians (such as Stephen E. Ambrose), Eisenhower privately offered Nixon another position in his cabinet, such as Secretary of Defense. However, Harold Stassen was the only Republican to publicly oppose Nixon's re-nomination for Vice-President, and Nixon remained highly popular among the Republican rank-and-file voters. Nixon had also reshaped the vice-presidency, using it as a platform to campaign for Republican state and local candidates across the country, and these candidates came to his defense. In the spring of 1956, Eisenhower publicly announced that Nixon would again be his running mate, and Stassen was forced to second Nixon's nomination at the Republican Convention. Unlike 1952, conservative Republicans (who had supported Robert Taft against Eisenhower in 1952) did not attempt to shape the platform. At the convention, one delegate voted for a fictitious "Joe Smith" for Vice-President to prevent a unanimous vote.

Democratic Party[edit]

Democratic candidates

Candidates gallery[edit]

Primaries[edit]

Results of the 1956 Democratic Presidential Primaries.

Adlai Stevenson, the Democratic Party's 1952 nominee, fought a tight primary battle with populist Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver for the 1956 nomination. Kefauver won the New Hampshire primary unopposed (though Stevenson won 15% on write-ins). After Kefauver upset Stevenson in the Minnesota primary, Stevenson, realizing that he was in trouble, agreed to debate Kefauver in Florida. Stevenson and Kefauver held the first televised presidential debate on May 21, 1956, before the Florida primary. Stevenson carried Florida by a 52-48% margin. By the time of the California primary in June 1956, Kefauver's campaign had run low on money and could not compete for publicity and advertising with the well-funded Stevenson. Stevenson won the California primary by a 63-37% margin, and Kefauver soon withdrew from the race.

Popular vote results[edit]

Source

Elvis Presley had 5,000 write-in votes

Democratic National Convention[edit]

At the 1956 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois, New York Governor W. Averell Harriman, who was backed by former President Harry S. Truman, challenged Stevenson for the nomination. However, Stevenson's delegate lead was much too large for Harriman to overcome, and Stevenson won the nomination on the first ballot.

The roll call, as reported in Richard C. Bain and Judith H. Parris, Convention Decisions and Voting Records, pp. 294–298:

Presidential Balloting, DNC 1956
Contender Vote
Adlai Stevenson 905.5
W. Averell Harriman 210
Lyndon B. Johnson 80
Stuart Symington 45.5
Happy Chandler 36.5
James C. Davis 33
John S. Battle 32.5
George Bell Timmerman, Jr. 23.5
Frank Lausche 5.5
Vice-Presidential Nomination[edit]

Democratic candidates:

Candidates gallery[edit]

The highlight of the 1956 Democratic Convention came when Stevenson, to create excitement for the ticket, made the surprise announcement that the convention's delegates would choose his running mate. This set off a desperate scramble among several candidates to win the nomination. Potential vice-presidential candidates had only one hectic day to campaign among the delegates before the voting began. The two leading contenders were Senator Kefauver, who retained the support of his primary delegates, and young Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts, who was relatively unknown at that point. Although Stevenson privately preferred Senator Kennedy to be his running mate, he did not attempt to influence the balloting for Kennedy in any way. Kennedy surprised the experts by surging into the lead on the second ballot; at one point, he was only 15 votes shy of winning. However, a number of states then left their "favorite son" candidates and switched to Kefauver, giving him the victory. Kennedy then gave a gracious concession speech. The defeat was a boost for Kennedy's long-term presidential chances: as a serious contender, he gained favorable national publicity, yet by losing to Kefauver he avoided blame for Stevenson's loss to Eisenhower in November. The vote totals in the vice-presidential balloting are recorded in the following table, which also comes from Bain & Parris.

Vice Presidential Balloting, DNC 1956
Ballot 1 2 before shifts 2 after shifts
Estes Kefauver 466.5 551.5 755.5
John F. Kennedy 294.5 618 589
Albert Gore, Sr. 178 110.5 13.5
Robert F. Wagner, Jr. 162.5 9.5 6
Hubert Humphrey 134 74.5 2
Luther H. Hodges 40 0.5 0
P.T. Maner 33 0 0
LeRoy Collins 29 0 0
Clinton Presba Anderson 16 0 0
Frank G. Clement 14 0 0
Pat Brown 1 0 0
Lyndon B. Johnson 1 0 0
Stuart Symington 1 0 0

General election[edit]

Campaign[edit]

Stevenson campaigned hard against Eisenhower, with television ads for the first time being the dominant medium for both sides. Because Eisenhower's 1952 election victory was due, in large part, to winning the female vote, there was a plethora of "housewife" focused ads. Some commentators at the time also argued that television's new prominence was a major factor in Eisenhower's decision to run for a second term at age 66, considering his weak health after the heart attack in 1955. Television allowed Eisenhower to reach people across the country without enduring the strain of repeated coast-to-coast travel, making a national campaign more feasible.[2]

Results by county explicitly indicating the percentage for the winning candidate. Shades of red are for Eisenhower (Republican), shades of blue are for Stevenson (Democratic), and shades of green are for Unpledged Electors/Andrews (Independent/States' Rights).

Stevenson proposed significant increases in government spending for social programs and treaties with the Soviet Union to lower military spending and end nuclear testing on both sides. He also proposed to end the military draft and switch to an "all-volunteer" military. Eisenhower publicly opposed these ideas, even though in private he was working on a proposal to ban atmospheric nuclear testing. Eisenhower had retained the enormous personal and political popularity he had earned during World War II, and he maintained a comfortable lead in the polls throughout the campaign.

Eisenhower was also helped by his handling of two developing foreign-policy crises that occurred in the weeks before the election. In the Soviet-occupied People's Republic of Hungary, many citizens had risen in revolt in the Revolution of 1956 against Soviet domination, but the Soviets responding by invading the country on October 26. Three days later, a combined force of Israeli, British, and French troops invaded Egypt to topple Gamal Abdel Nasser and seize the recently nationalized Suez Canal. The resolution of the latter crisis rapidly moved to the United Nations,[3] and the Hungarian revolt was brutally crushed within a few days by re-deployed Soviet troops. Eisenhower condemned both actions, but was unable to help Hungary; he did, however, forcefully pressure the western forces to withdraw from Egypt.

While these two events led many Americans to rally in support of the president and swelled his expected margin of victory, the campaign was seen differently by some foreign governments.[4] The Eisenhower administration had also supported the Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954; this ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court ended legal segregation in public schools. As a result, Eisenhower won the support of nearly 40% of black voters; he was the last Republican presidential candidate to receive such a level of support from black voters.

Eisenhower led all opinion polls by large margins throughout the campaign. On Election Day Eisenhower took over 57% of the popular vote and won 41 of the 48 states. Stevenson won only six Southern states and the border state of Missouri, becoming the first losing candidate since William Jennings Bryan in 1900 to carry Missouri. Eisenhower carried Louisiana, making him the first Republican presidential candidate to carry the state since Rutherford Hayes had done so in 1876 during Reconstruction.

Results[edit]

Presidential candidate Party Home state Popular vote Electoral
vote
Running mate
Count Pct Vice-presidential candidate Home state Elect. vote
Dwight D. Eisenhower Republican Pennsylvania 35,579,180 57.37% 457 Richard Nixon California 457
Adlai Stevenson Democratic Illinois 26,028,028 41.97% 73 Estes Kefauver Tennessee 73
(Unpledged electors) (n/a) (n/a) 196,145 0.32% 0 (n/a) (n/a) 0
T. Coleman Andrews States' Rights Virginia 107,929 0.17% 0 Thomas Werdel California 0
Eric Hass Socialist Labor New York 44,300 0.07% 0 Georgia Cozzini Wisconsin 0
Enoch A. Holtwick Prohibition Illinois 41,937 0.07% 0 Edwin M. Cooper California 0
Walter Burgwyn Jones Democratic Alabama (a) (a) 1 Herman Talmadge Georgia 1
Other 23,809 0.04% Other
Total 62,021,328 100% 531 531
Needed to win 266 266

Source (Popular Vote): Leip, David. 1956 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).

Popular vote
Eisenhower
  
57.37%
Stevenson
  
41.97%
Unpledged
  
0.32%
Others
  
0.34%
Electoral vote
Eisenhower
  
86.06%
Stevenson
  
13.75%
Jones
  
0.19%

Results by state[edit]

[5]

States won by Eisenhower/Nixon
States won by Stevenson/Kefauver
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Republican
Adlai Stevenson
Democratic
T. Coleman Andrews/
Unpledged Electors
States' Rights
Eric Hass
Socialist Labor
Margin State Total
State electoral
votes
#  % electoral
votes
#  % electoral
votes
#  % electoral
votes
#  % electoral
votes
#  % #
Alabama 11 195,694 39.40 - 280,844 56.54 10 20,150 4.06 - - - - -85,150 -17.14 496,698 AL
Arizona 4 176,990 60.99 4 112,880 38.90 - 303 0.10 - - - - 64,110 22.09 290,173 AZ
Arkansas 8 186,287 45.82 - 213,277 52.46 8 7,008 1.72 - - - - -26,990 -6.64 406,572 AR
California 32 3,027,668 55.39 32 2,420,135 44.27 - 6,087 0.11 - 300 0.01 - 607,533 11.11 5,466,355 CA
Colorado 6 394,479 59.49 6 263,997 39.81 - 759 0.11 - 3,308 0.50 - 130,482 19.68 663,074 CO
Connecticut 8 711,837 63.72 8 405,079 36.26 - - - - - - - 306,758 27.46 1,117,121 CT
Delaware 3 98,057 55.09 3 79,421 44.62 - - - - 110 0.06 - 18,636 10.47 177,988 DE
Florida 10 643,849 57.27 10 480,371 42.73 - - - - - - - 163,478 14.54 1,124,220 FL
Georgia 12 216,652 32.65 - 441,094 66.48 12 - - - - - - -224,442 -33.83 663,480 GA
Idaho 4 166,979 61.17 4 105,868 38.78 - - - - - - - 61,111 22.39 272,989 ID
Illinois 27 2,623,327 59.52 27 1,775,682 40.29 - - - - 8,342 0.19 - 847,645 19.23 4,407,407 IL
Indiana 13 1,182,811 59.90 13 783,908 39.70 - - - - 1,334 0.07 - 398,903 20.20 1,974,607 IN
Iowa 10 729,187 59.06 10 501,858 40.65 - 3,202 0.26 - 125 0.01 - 227,329 18.41 1,234,564 IA
Kansas 8 566,878 65.44 8 296,317 34.21 - - - - - - - 270,561 31.23 866,243 KS
Kentucky 10 572,192 54.30 10 476,453 45.21 - 2,657 0.25 - 358 0.03 - 95,739 9.09 1,053,805 KY
Louisiana 10 329,047 53.28 10 243,977 39.51 - 44,520 7.21 - - - - 85,070 13.78 617,544 LA
Maine 5 249,238 70.87 5 102,468 29.13 - - - - - - - 146,770 41.73 351,706 ME
Maryland 9 559,738 60.04 9 372,613 39.96 - - - - - - - 187,125 20.07 932,351 MD
Massachusetts 16 1,393,197 59.32 16 948,190 40.37 - - - - 5,573 0.24 - 445,007 18.95 2,348,506 MA
Michigan 20 1,713,647 55.63 20 1,359,898 44.15 - - - - - - - 353,749 11.48 3,080,468 MI
Minnesota 11 719,302 53.68 11 617,525 46.08 - - - - 2,080 0.16 - 101,777 7.60 1,340,005 MN
Mississippi 8 60,685 24.46 - 144,498 58.23 8 42,966 17.31 - - - - -83,813 -33.78 248,149 MS
Missouri 13 914,289 49.89 - 918,273 50.11 13 - - - - - - -3,984 -0.22 1,832,562 MO
Montana 4 154,933 57.13 4 116,238 42.87 - - - - - - - 38,695 14.27 271,171 MT
Nebraska 6 378,108 65.51 6 199,029 34.49 - - - - - - - 179,079 31.03 577,137 NE
Nevada 3 56,049 57.97 3 40,640 42.03 - - - - - - - 15,409 15.94 96,689 NV
New Hampshire 4 176,519 66.11 4 90,364 33.84 - 111 0.04 - - - - 86,155 32.27 266,994 NH
New Jersey 16 1,606,942 64.68 16 850,337 34.23 - 5,317 0.21 - 6,736 0.27 - 756,605 30.46 2,484,312 NJ
New Mexico 4 146,788 57.81 4 106,098 41.78 - 364 0.14 - 69 0.03 - 40,690 16.02 253,926 NM
New York 45 4,340,340 61.19 45 2,750,769 38.78 - - - - - - - 1,589,571 22.41 7,092,860 NY
North Carolina 14 575,062 49.34 - 590,530 50.66 14 - - - - - - -15,468 -1.33 1,165,592 NC
North Dakota 4 156,766 61.72 4 96,742 38.09 - 483 0.19 - - - - 60,024 23.63 253,991 ND
Ohio 25 2,262,610 61.11 25 1,439,655 38.89 - - - - - - - 822,955 22.23 3,702,265 OH
Oklahoma 8 473,769 55.13 8 385,581 44.87 - - - - - - - 88,188 10.26 859,350 OK
Oregon 6 406,393 55.25 6 329,204 44.75 - - - - - - - 77,189 10.49 735,597 OR
Pennsylvania 32 2,585,252 56.49 32 1,981,769 43.30 - - - - 7,447 0.16 - 603,483 13.19 4,576,503 PA
Rhode Island 4 225,819 58.26 4 161,790 41.74 - - - - - - - 64,029 16.52 387,609 RI
South Carolina 8 75,700 25.18 - 136,372 45.37 8 88,511 29.45 - - - - -47,863 -15.92 300,583 SC
South Dakota 4 171,569 58.39 4 122,288 41.61 - - - - - - - 49,281 16.77 293,857 SD
Tennessee 11 462,288 49.21 11 456,507 48.60 - 19,820 2.11 - - - - 5,781 0.62 939,404 TN
Texas 24 1,080,619 55.26 24 859,958 43.98 - 14,591 0.75 - - - - 220,661 11.28 1,955,545 TX
Utah 4 215,631 64.56 4 118,364 35.44 - - - - - - - 97,267 29.12 333,995 UT
Vermont 3 110,390 72.16 3 42,549 27.81 - - - - - - - 67,841 44.35 152,978 VT
Virginia 12 386,459 55.37 12 267,760 38.36 - 42,964 6.16 - 351 0.05 - 118,699 17.01 697,978 VA
Washington 9 620,430 53.91 9 523,002 45.44 - - - - 7,457 0.65 - 97,428 8.47 1,150,889 WA
West Virginia 8 449,297 54.08 8 381,534 45.92 - - - - - - - 67,763 8.16 830,831 WV
Wisconsin 12 954,844 61.58 12 586,768 37.84 - 6,918 0.45 - 710 0.05 - 368,076 23.74 1,550,558 WI
Wyoming 3 74,573 60.08 3 49,554 39.92 - - - - - - - 25,019 20.16 124,127 WY
TOTALS: 531 35,579,180 57.37 457 26,028,028 41.97 73 304,074 0.49 - 44,300 0.07 - 9,551,152 15.40 62,021,328 US

Close states (margin of victory less than 5%, totaling 38 electoral votes)[edit]

  1. Missouri, 0.22%
  2. Tennessee, 0.62%
  3. North Carolina, 1.33%

Close states (margin of victory more than 5%, but less than 10%, totaling 46 electoral votes)[edit]

  1. Arkansas, 6.64%
  2. Minnesota, 7.60%
  3. West Virginia, 8.16%
  4. Washington, 8.47%
  5. Kentucky, 9.09%

(a) Alabama faithless elector W. F. Turner, who was pledged to Adlai Stevenson and Estes Kefauver, instead cast his votes for Walter Burgwyn Jones, who was a circuit court judge in Turner's home town, and Herman Talmadge, governor of the neighboring state of Georgia.

Because of the admission of Alaska and Hawaii as states in 1959, the 1956 presidential election was the last in which there were 531 electoral votes.

Electoral eccentricities[edit]

  • As of 2012, the 1956 election was the last time in which the election was a rematch of the election held four years earlier. (Rematches also occurred in 1800, 1828, 1840, 1892, and 1900.)
  • As of 2012, the 1956 Democratic vice presidential vote was the last time any convention voting went to a second ballot.
  • Missouri was often considered to be a 'bellwether' state because it voted for the winner of nearly every Presidential election in the 100 years between 1904 and 2004. 1956 is the only exception, as it voted for Stevenson despite Eisenhower's convincing nationwide victory (albeit by only 3,984 votes out of more than 1.8 million cast; most of this margin being provided by the City of St. Louis). After 1956, the state reverted to 'bellwether' status and voted for the presidential winner in every election until 2008 and 2012, when it voted for losing Republican candidates over a victorious Barack Obama.
  • With this election, Eisenhower became the first Republican to carry these states twice in Presidential elections: Arizona, Idaho, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.
  • As of 2012, the 1956 election was the last time the Republican candidate carried all six of the following states in the same election: Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, all of which have since become solid blue states in elections. Since 1956, the only Republican victories in either of these states have been in 1972 (Richard Nixon won all except Massachusetts), 1980 (Ronald Reagan won Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania), 1984 (Reagan won all except Minnesota) and 1988 (George H.W Bush won Maryland and Pennsylvania).
  • This is one of the last elections where the Democrats had their post Civil War dominance of the Deep South, all of which states have become solid red states in the present day.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ There is some confusion about Eisenhower's home state in this election. Both [Leip] and the National Archives give Eisenhower's home state as New York, his state of residence when he was first elected in 1952. There are strong reasons to believe that these two sources are erroneous for 1956: The National Archives cites the Senate Manual as a source, and the Senate Manual has home state as New York. The brief description for the book Republican Party National Convention (26th : 1956 : San Francisco) in the Library of Congress's online catalog refers to "Dwight D. Eisenhower of Pennsylvania". Finally, the Maryland Manual has Eisenhower residing in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
  2. ^ Emmet John Hughes, "52,000,000 TV Sets-How Many Votes?" The New York Times, September 25, 1960, SM23
  3. ^ Borhi, László (1999). "Containment, Rollback, Liberation or Inaction? The United States and Hungary in the 1950s" (PDF). Journal of Cold War Studies 1 (3): 67–108. doi:10.1162/152039799316976814. Retrieved June 29, 2009.  As Vice President Richard Nixon later explained: "We couldn't on one hand, complain about the Soviets intervening in Hungary and, on the other hand, approve of the British and the French picking that particular time to intervene against [Gamel Abdel] Nasser".
  4. ^ "How Britain France and Israel Got Together". Time. November 12, 1956. "State Department officials are sure that the British and French callously deceived or misled them from this date onward. On October 23 Pineau dashed over to London, reportedly to tell Eden that Israel was all ready to launch preventive war on Nasser. Ben-Gurion's moment was well chosen because, it was reasoned, 1) the U.S. would not dare move decisively against Israel on the verge of a presidential election, and 2) the Hungarian rebellion, then at its height, would keep Russia's hands tied." 
  5. ^ "1956 Presidential General Election Data - National". Retrieved March 18, 2013. 

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Converse, Philip E., Warren E. Miller, Donald E. Stokes Angus Campbell. The American Voter (1964) the classic political science study of voters in 1952 and 1956
  • Divine, Robert A. (1974). Foreign Policy and U.S. Presidential Elections, 1952–1960. ISBN 0-531-06496-4. 
  • Gallup, George H. (ed.), ed. (1972). The Gallup Poll: Public Opinion, 1935–1971. 3 vols. Random House. ISBN 0-394-47270-5.  vol 2

External links[edit]