Talk:United States Senate election in California, 1950

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Better Douglas photo availible?[edit]

The current photo of Douglas looks a little out-of-place on a Senate race page. (Not surprising, as the photo-info page indicates it's a modeling headshot from when she was 20.) Would it be possible to track down a portrait photo of Douglas in which she looks more like a politician, and less like a silent film starlet/femme fatale? -- (talk) 00:21, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

How do I justify fair use of such an image where there is a free use, however out of place, available?--Wehwalt (talk) 00:22, 27 May 2009 (UTC)
Hmm ... you're probably correct that a fair-use image wouldn't pass muster. Is there another free-use image somewhere of her looking more politician-y? -- (talk) 15:22, 27 May 2009 (UTC)
If I knew of one, I'd use it. That doesn't mean I'm giving up. Best bet is a congressional committee photo (most free use photos post 1923 are by Federal employees within their duties) or some such. The first Congressional Photo Directory didn't come out until 1957. I'm going to the Nixon library in July, they may have something. Douglas' papers are at the University of Oklahoma, I may contact them and see how helpful they are. Possibly the House of Representatives historical office. We'll see. It will take time, but so will improving this article. I don't think I'll be able to nom it for Featured Article until August at the earliest, I need copies of the Statements of Vote.--Wehwalt (talk) 17:54, 27 May 2009 (UTC)


I took a look at the first section of this version, considering an ongoing strong oppose. I have the following questions:

California Senator Sheridan Downey was first elected in 1938.

  • A summarizing sentence about the three candidates in the race might be less jarring than just starting off the section mentioning one candidate. The lead is a summary.

An attorney, he ran for Lieutenant Governor of California in 1934 as Upton Sinclair's running mate, and had a reputation as a liberal.[citation needed] As a senator, however, his positions gradually began to favor corporate interests.[1]

  • What is the "however" about? Is it intended to imply that liberals don't favor corporate interests? If so, is that from the source? If not, why the "however"?

Both Helen Douglas and Richard Nixon entered politics in the mid-1940s. Douglas, a former actress and opera singer, and the wife of actor Melvyn Douglas, represented the 14th congressional district beginning in 1945, and compiled a liberal record in the United States House of Representatives.[citation needed]

Between 1945 to 1950,

  • Between ... to ???

California experienced a huge influx of migrants, increasing its population by 55%.[2] Party registration in 1950 was 58.4% Democratic and 37.1% Republican.[3] However, other than Downey, most major California officeholders were Republican,[citation needed]

  • (also, why, with 58% Democrats?)

including Governor Earl Warren (who was seeking a third term in 1950)

  • I hope we'll find later in the article why we need to know that Warren was seeking a third term ?

and Senator William Knowland.

Much of the 1950 California senatorial campaign focused on comparisons between the candidates and New York Congressman Vito Marcantonio.

  • Needs explanation. We find that in the lead (with another copyedit error), but the lead should be a summary of the article:
    • Boddy attacked Douglas as a leftist and was the first to compare her to New York Congressman Vito Marcantonio, widely considered to be a communist sympthizer.

Marcantonio, the sole congressman from the American Labor Party at the time, represented East Harlem. He denied being a communist and rarely discussed the Soviet Union or communism, but opposed restrictions on communists and the Communist Party, stating that such restrictions violated the Bill of Rights. He regularly voted against contempt citations requested by the House Un-American Activities Committee, on which Nixon served.[4]

SandyGeorgia (Talk) 10:31, 9 August 2009 (UTC)

In the next section, I had to re-read the paragraph several times to determine who "their" referred to (I think it's Downey, not Nixon, but still unsure):

  • Realizing that Nixon would most likely be the Republican nominee, she felt that the contrast in their positions would be to her benefit.

SandyGeorgia (Talk) 10:39, 9 August 2009 (UTC)

Another sample: Douglas leased the craft from a helicopter company in Palo Altoowned by Republican supporters, which hoped her influence would lead to a defense contract for it.

  • Coyedit problem, Altoowned: that's three ce issues in only three sections I've read.
  • "Which hoped"? The company hoped? I'm seeing the concerns here. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 10:42, 9 August 2009 (UTC)

It might help to run the article through a spell checker; I do that by clicking on the "printable version" and edit copy-pasting it into Word. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 10:53, 9 August 2009 (UTC)

The lead should summarize the article, and items from the lead should be cited in the article. I haven't yet read the entire article, but a search on "red-baiting" in the text did not turn this up:

  • Nixon's tactics have been called red-baiting by some authors and historians,

... so unless my search on "red-baiting" missed it, that needs to be cited and included in the article body. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 10:59, 9 August 2009 (UTC)

Found this:
... but the lead says "some authors and historians". SandyGeorgia (Talk) 11:03, 9 August 2009 (UTC)

Again, without having read the full article yet, a search turns up no other mention of "century" in the article. Who describes it thusly, and is that cited and mentioned in the article?

  • The Nixon–Douglas race is described as one of the most contentious of the 20th century.

SandyGeorgia (Talk) 11:05, 9 August 2009 (UTC)

That's as much as I've looked at so far, but it's enough to convince me that we're not quite there yet. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 11:06, 9 August 2009 (UTC)

Since this was purely background and basically noncontentious material, I was light on the footnoting. I will add some tonight or in the morning, I don't have my refs with me. We do need to know that Warren was running for reelection because of the fact that the Warren/Roosevelt race was to a considerable extent intertwined with the Nixon/Douglas race, but I've avoided giving details except where I felt they were relevant: For example, I don't discuss the primary results there (Warren nearly outpolled Roosevelt in the Democratic race, which would have given him the effective victory through cross filing.

Are you asking why Republicans kept winning? Well, to start off with, cross-filing gave advantages to the incumbent, there was no election for governor or senator since 1946 (the influx increased the Democratic percentage), and California was a weak party state. Warren appealed to both parties; he did not campaign as a Republican and avoided partisanship. The handwriting was on the wall, the Dems took back several house seats in 1948, and Pat Brown was elected Attorney General in 1950, but he kept well away from either disasterous Democratic race. In 1958, the Republicans lost control of California politics when they tried the "Big Switch" (Governor Knight ran for Senate, Senator Knowland ran for Governor, both lost) and in 1959, the Dems abolished cross-filing). None of which needs to be in the article, though, though I can make a comment about Warren's nonpartisanship, if you like.
I guess I can rephrase the Marcantonio thing to "During the 1950 campaign, several candidates accused their opponents of having a voting record comparable to that of New York Congressman Vito Marcantonio. ..."
I will state more clearly Douglas's opposition to corporate interests.
I actually kind of like opening the article with Downey in that manner but am open to a change. Downey (to a limited extent), Nixon, and Douglas are really the focus of this article, that is why they are introduced up front. If you read the aftermath, you will see that I discuss what happens to each of the three. It balances the article and gives it closure. Do you have a suggestion (just generally) for what would be in such an opening sentence? It seemed logical to me to start with the incumbent.
Good point on the red-baiting. I will smooth that out.
Let me know what you think. I am not going to get to this until late tonight or in the morning, because I need the reference books.--Wehwalt (talk) 11:08, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
I won't be able to follow talk in detail (will unwatch), and I'm confident you all will get everything sorted. I was just commenting that I found enough that I don't think we're ready to override a strong oppose yet. Keep at it! SandyGeorgia (Talk) 11:11, 9 August 2009 (UTC)
All done, and I spellchecked and looked at the rest of the article very carefully. I think an explanations of California politics in Warren era is a bit beyond the scope of this article. I've checked the lede and made sure everything in there is backed up on the article, with citations. I think it is good to go.--Wehwalt (talk) 14:09, 10 August 2009 (UTC)
  1. ^ Scobie 1990, p. 224.
  2. ^ Morris 1990, p. 516.
  3. ^ Gellman 1999, p. 291.
  4. ^ Gellman 1999, p. 165.

Vito Marcantonio[edit]

I am really surprised that after all these years Vito Marcantonio is still being red-baited in this article. Can we please stick to the facts and not to perceptions? Sincerely, your friend,GeorgeLouis (talk) 11:47, 7 September 2010 (UTC)

Marcantonio and communist[edit]

There appears to be some confusion by User:GeorgeLouis. The lede did not state that Marcantonio was a communist, it said that many believed him to be a communist. That is undoubtedly true. I don't understand what the problem is with that, as it is crucial to understanding the "commie by association" argument tried whenever any of the candidates compared another with Marcantonio.--Wehwalt (talk) 11:49, 7 September 2010 (UTC)

The fact is that he was accused of being a Communist. Nobody can tell for certain that his accusers actually believed in what they were saying. If you want to say "accused," I think that might be OK because that was certainly the case. Sincerely, GeorgeLouis (talk) 11:58, 7 September 2010 (UTC)
I can live with that. I'll make that change. Thank you.--Wehwalt (talk) 12:04, 7 September 2010 (UTC)

Improving the article[edit]

I removed "widely." POV. Sincerely, your friend, GeorgeLouis (talk) 21:19, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

I don't have a problem with that. Hope you will support at TFA/R when I nom it for the main page in about a month, after all, you may be the only Wikipedian who voted in that election! What do you think of the images?--Wehwalt (talk) 00:25, 15 September 2010 (UTC)

Unusual, to say the least. (Mostly the campaign envelope.) I think the Eleanor Roosevelt pic is reaching for it. But, really, the whole package of pix is OK by me. I don't know what others might say. Otherwise: I am afraid the leed is too long, and there is a passel of editing and tightening-up that can be done. I am actually a professional editor (newspapers) but not necessarily a word-butcher. I will copy the article to one of my sandboxes and have a go at it. You can comment on the draft over there. I will let you know when. I'm sure you want this piece to be a winner. Sincerely, GeorgeLouis (talk) 03:21, 15 September 2010 (UTC)

Well, it is what I could find that was not within copyright. i have almost no news photographs of the campaign, as they are almost all copyrighted. The Douglas one in the infobox is fair use. I can't crop the campaign flyers to yield pictures of people because the pictures are copyrighted, but the brochures are not. Most of the items are in the Nixon Library, the thimble and Senate pass are mine. Feel free, and I'll look at the sandbox and we'll talk. As you can imagine, as a writer, I wince when I hear the word "editor".--Wehwalt (talk) 03:33, 15 September 2010 (UTC)

I copied the article to my sandbox, and I ordered all the source books through the local library here, so I will be able to check the references along with everything else. GeorgeLouis (talk) 22:42, 15 September 2010 (UTC)

Feel free. Note that almost all of the source books contain some howling errors (especially Mitchell's book and the recent The Pink Lady). I also tried not to rely on either Nixon's or Douglas's memoirs for anything substantive, as they spin considerably. It's one of those situation where a writer treads carefully.--Wehwalt (talk) 23:21, 15 September 2010 (UTC)
Also, research continues. I will be looking at Douglas's papers for two days in early October. I will be back at the Nixon Library for a week at the end of October, and I also need to find a library (perhaps L.A. central) which has a newsmagazine called Fortnight, the issues I've seen of it give excellent coverage of the 1950 Senate race. Looking forward to your comments, you might want to hit me with it a bit at a time, rather than all at once.--Wehwalt (talk) 14:26, 16 September 2010 (UTC)

I remember Fortnight. I once tried to sell an article there. Very liberal magazine (be forewarned). The LAPL has copies: PERIODICAL LIBRARY HAS: 3-4,14:7-20:7 (1947:07-1948:06 1953:04-1957:08/09) 1955-1956 are incomplete. Do you have a LAPL library card? If so, you can access the L.A. Times on line, too, although I really think we have enough facts in the article already. I will get at it soon, without waiting for the library books (which I will use mostly to see that the references in the article match up with the sources). Oh, yes, for a Douglas photo, try Yours, GeorgeLouis (talk) 02:13, 17 September 2010 (UTC) Also see GeorgeLouis (talk) 02:17, 17 September 2010 (UTC)

Still, the two issues I have seen were very helpful. I do not live in California, btw, but I have friends out there so I am visiting fairly frequently right now. Yes, I am not trying to expand the article anymore, just to refine it. Images of Douglas that are in the public domain are hard to find. Many thanks for your help and I look forward with interest to see what you come up with.--Wehwalt (talk) 02:31, 17 September 2010 (UTC)

I am working on the article in a sandbox and will be able to post a link for everybody to look at before not too long. GeorgeLouis (talk) 01:24, 18 September 2010 (UTC)

Format of this article — who has decided?[edit]

It seems that somebody, somewhere, sometime decided that this and similar articles would be set up as they are. Where was the decision made? Is there a group of editors somewhere to whom we can turn for consensus-building? Two examples: (1) The infobox is just too wide; can't it be narrowed? (2) The charts giving the results take up a lot of space; can't they be put on a separate page and referenced from the article? Hoping for some comment on this, I am your friend, GeorgeLouis (talk) 01:20, 18 September 2010 (UTC)

I don't know. As you no doubt can tell from the article history, I originated this article, and copied the infobox from one of the more recent California Senate race article. I had the map made showing the counties won using an existing map template (there are a couple of minor differences in county boundaries which have happened since 1950, but you'd have to be really informed and REALLY picky to pick up on that). It was queried at FAC, I basically said what I told you. I have moved the elections navbar to the foot of the article, if it is any help. At this point, my friend, the article has had all the organized scrutiny it is going to get, excepting some cursory looks in the runup to November 7, and of course the world staring at it on that day. If you want to change it, I'm open to it and I think very few people will care.--Wehwalt (talk) 01:43, 18 September 2010 (UTC)
Regarding the results, it may be possible to collapse them. I can ask around to knowledgeable editors if you like, I am not good at wiki formatting.--Wehwalt (talk) 01:45, 18 September 2010 (UTC)


In looking over this article, I found it chock full of good, well-sourced information but a bit difficult to comprehend. It told an interesting story in a general, chronological sense. I felt that pure chronology was not the best way to report this story in an encyclopedia, although in my doing a thorough edit, the chronological distinctions between (1) the primary election, (2) the general election and (3) the aftermath remain intact.

I edited the article as follows. It is now shorter and, I feel, easier to read.

  • Provided a new leed that sums up the contents of the article and informs the reader what is the importance of the subject matter.
  • Deleted extraneous material that can be found elsewhere in Wikipedia by clicking on the links. For example, (1) personal background of some of the candidates and (2) what happened to the candidates after the election was over. The focus of this article is simply on the election and on election campaigning.
  • Trimmed the content by deleting repetitive or extraneous material. The major trims have been saved and can be found at User:GeorgeLouis/Sandbox2. Other trims resulted from word-editing and simplifying.
  • Moved the results of the two elections from the bottom of the article to their logical places within the body of the article.
  • Cropped the Douglas photo so her face is more easily seen in the infobox.

GeorgeLouis (talk) 23:15, 19 September 2010 (UTC)

I've regretfully reverted. As I tried to indicate, I don't think such a change benefits the article. I think we can make smaller changes. I think that by chopping at the narrative, and converting the text (especially in the primary sections) into a list of candidates, you hurt the article badly. I do not say that mine is the only way to write it, but repeated review has shown that it is a very good one, and should not be altered that much.--Wehwalt (talk) 00:18, 20 September 2010 (UTC)

Question re Boddy[edit]

Could someone please add the year that Boddy purchased the LADN to the Background section? Thanks. Risker (talk) 02:07, 2 November 2010 (UTC)

Just dropping by to say thank you to whoever added that. Risker (talk) 16:59, 2 November 2010 (UTC)


Is it just me, or does this phrasing suggest a POV problem?

Nixon's attacks were far more effective

Ed8r (talk) 15:04, 2 November 2010 (UTC)

I think it is borne out by the article. And by the result. Nixon won by 18 points, after all. I can find nothing that says that her attempts to link Nixon and Marcantonio did her any good whatsoever.--Wehwalt (talk) 15:09, 2 November 2010 (UTC)
But do we normally attribute the winning of an election merely to effective attacks by the opposing candidate? Ed8r (talk) 18:14, 2 November 2010 (UTC)
We are not. See the last paragraph of the lede.--Wehwalt (talk) 18:40, 2 November 2010 (UTC)


Someone should fix this: "Both Helen Douglas and Richard Nixon entered electoral politics in the mid-1940s. Douglas, a New Deal Democrat, was a former actress and opera singer, and the wife of actor" —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jbhf1 (talkcontribs) 16:38, 2 November 2010 (UTC)

What's wrong with it? Keeping in mind that the sentence continues.--Wehwalt (talk) 18:40, 2 November 2010 (UTC)

Observer, Frank[edit]

"Observer, Frank (obviously a pseudonym)" says ref 58. Yes, it may well be a pseudonym but isn't that claim original research? Regards, SunCreator (talk) 20:42, 2 November 2010 (UTC)

At the time I added that reference, I consulted with other editors and that was the suggestion. The other way is to say nothing and have someone ream us out for not telling the reader that this is an obvious pseudonym.--Wehwalt (talk) 20:51, 2 November 2010 (UTC)

Accessibility of tables[edit]

Except for the last one, the tables in this article fall short of our current standards of accessibility as outlined in WP:DTAB. The last one, incidentally, violates MOS:BOLD and MOS:ITALIC. I do understand that the lack of compliance in the first three is caused by the use of ancient templates that were designed before editors understood the need to cater for assistive technology.

The first three tables mark up a header which ought to be a caption. A modern screen reader like JAWS can call up a list of all of the table captions in a webpage and use that to navigate directly to the table that the user desires. That can't happen unless captions are marked as captions.

They fail to mark up the scope of the column headers, 'Candidate', 'Votes', and 'Percentage'. This is a good practice which encourages editors to recognise and mark appropriate headers, as well as ensuring that a wide variety of assistive technology uses the correct header for each data cell.

They also fail to markup and scope any row headers, which are obviously the candidate's name in this case. Having both row and column headers marked up and scoped will ensure that as large a number of screen readers as possible are able to navigate these tables in different ways, such as reading down the percentages column. The intention is that the visitor navigating down the 'Percentage' column would hear: "Helen Gahagan Douglas", "Percentage", "46.98%" then when moving down to the next cell: "Manchester Boddy", "Percentage", "24.23%"; and so on.

Unfortunately not all screen readers implement the algorithm in the same way, which is why we ask editors to mark up using both '!' (table header) and 'scope=' to ensure that as many as possible are catered for.

Here's how the first table should be marked up according to WPDTAB and MOSBOLD if you want it to resemble the original:

1950 United States Senate Democratic primary, California, June 6, 1950[a][1]
Candidate Votes Percentage
Helen Gahagan Douglas 734,842 46.98
Manchester Boddy 379,077 24.23
Richard Nixon 318,840 20.38
Earl D. Desmond 96,752 6.19
Ulysses Grant Bixby Meyer 34,707 2.22
Total votes 1,564,218 100.00

I'm not sure whether the maintainers of {{election box}}, etc. would be amenable to updating their templates to take into account the Manual of Style's guidance on data tables and bold face, I can only say that there is obvious room for improvement in the article as it stands. --RexxS (talk) 16:06, 7 May 2012 (UTC)

Now a FA in Chinese Wikipedia[edit]

I have translated this article to Chinese Wikipedia here and promoted to FA status, and I want to thank User:Wehwalt for his effort to write this amazing article. --Jarodalien (talk) 08:24, 11 January 2016 (UTC)
Cite error: There are <ref group=lower-alpha> tags or {{efn}} templates on this page, but the references will not show without a {{reflist|group=lower-alpha}} template or {{notelist}} template (see the help page).

  1. ^ Jordan June 6, 1950, pp. 15–16.