PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN & ELECTIONS
OVERVIEWS & CHRONOLOGIES: 1956
By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS
Election Year: 1956
Election Day Date: November 6, 1956
- Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Republican 35,579,180, 57.37%, 457, 86.1%
- Adlai Stevenson, Estes Kefauver, Democratic 26,028,028, 41.97%, 73, 13.7%
- Unpledged Elector-Independent 196,145 0.32% 0 0.0%
- Other (+) – – 217,975 0.35% 0 0.0%
Voter Turnout: 60.6%
Central Forums/Campaign Methods for Addressing Voters:
Whistle-stop tour, speeches, radio; television (ads)
Election Law/Campaign Finance Changes:
Incumbent President and Vice President on Election Day:
Dwight David Eisenhower, Richard Milhous Nixon, Republican, 1953-1961
Nominal GDP (billions of dollars): $437.4 Real GDP (billions of 2005 dollars): $2,549.7 GDP Deflator (index 2005=100%): 17.16 Population (in thousands): 168,221 Nominal GDP per capita (current dollars): $2,600 Real GDP per capita (year 2005 dollars): $15,157
Number of Daily Newspapers: 1,763 (1960)
Average Daily Circulation: 58,882,000 (1960)
- Radio 48,504,000 (1960)
- Television 46,312,000 (1960)
Central Issues (Nomination/Primaries):
- Republicans lost control of Congress in the 1954 mid-term elections
- Korean War ended
- “McCarthyism” declined Joseph McCarthy senate censure in 1954
- Eisenhower remained popular among the public
Leading Candidates (Nomination/Primaries):
Republican Party candidate:
Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States from New York
Democratic Party candidates
- Adlai E. Stevenson, former governor of Illinois
- Estes Kefauver, U.S. senator from Tennessee
- W. Averell Harriman, governor of New York
- Lyndon B. Johnson, U.S. Senate Majority Leader from Texas
Vice Presidential candidates:
- Estes Kefauver, U.S. senator from Tennessee
- John F. Kennedy, U.S. senator from Massachusetts
- Albert Gore, Sr., U.S. senator from Tennesee
- Robert F. Wagner, Jr., Mayor of New York
- Hubert Humphrey, U.S. senator from Minnesota
Main Controversies (Nomination/Primaries):
- President Dwight Eisenhower’s health (suffered a heart attack in September 1955)
Campaign Innovations (Nomination/Primaries): Increased reliance of television ads
Major Personalities (Nomination/Primaries): Averell Harriman; Harry Truman; Estes Kefauver
Turning Points (Nomination/Primaries):
- After a would tour, Adlai Stevenson announced in November 1955, his intention to run again for the Democratic nomination, was not drafted, he had competition for the nomination.
- Main candidates in the primaries former Illinois Governor and 1952 candidate Adlai Stevenson; and Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver; Stevenson led in the polls; loss Minnesota primary; won California by a 2-1 margin.
- Kefauver won two more primaries than Stevenson, but withdrew from the race
- New York Governor Averell Harriman had former President Harry Truman’s endorsement and continued his campaign through the convention.
- March, 1956, after doctors cleared his health, Eisenhower announced his candidacy for reelection, in June Eisenhower returned to the hospital for the removal for ileitis, an intestinal obstruction, but returned to work quickly, afterwards again announced his intention to run again.
- “One of the great dangers of the present campaign is that the Old Guard politicians are using the campaign of Mr. Stevenson to climb back into power.” Estes Kefauver
- “You can’t teach an underdog new tricks.” Adlai Stevenson
- Democratic 19, 42.7% delegates
- Republican 19, 44.8% delegates
Republican Party: Jul 01, 1956
Dwight David Eisenhower(I): 5,008,132, 85.93%
John W. Bricker: 478,453, 8.21%
Unpledged: 115,014, 1.97%
William Fife Knowland: 84,446, 1.45%
Joseph Jacob “Joe” Foss: 59,374, 1.02%
S. C. Arnold: 32,732, 0.56%
Lawrence “Lar” Daly: 27,131, 0.47%
John Bowman Chapple: 18,743, 0.32%
Others: 1,963, 0.03%
Democratic Party: Jul 01, 1956
Adlai Ewing Stevenson II: 3,069,504, 50.70%
C. Estes Kefauver: 2,283,172, 37.71%
Unpledged: 380,300, 6.28%
Frank J. Lausche: 278,074, 4.59%
John W. McCormack: 26,128, 0.43%
Conventions (Dates & Locations):
- Republican National Convention: August 20-23, 1956, Cow Palace; San Francisco, 1st ballot, Dwight D. Eisenhower (Pennsylvania), Richard M. Nixon, (California)
- Democratic National Convention: August 13-17, 1956, International Amphitheatre; Chicago, Sam Rayburn (Texas) 1st ballot, Adlai E. Stevenson (Illinois), Estes Kefauver (Tennessee)
Convention Turning Points:
Republican National Convention
- Harold E. Stassen, President Eisenhower’s special cabinet assistant on disarmament suggested Eisenhower choose a stronger running-mate than Nixon
- Suggested Christian A. Herter, Governor of Massachusetts
- Stassen campaigned for four-weeks prior to the convention for Herter in an attempted to persuade convention delegates to support Herter
- California Governor Goodwin J. Knight also in the running for Vice-President
- On August 22, Herter declined to run, and Nixon had a majority of delegate support. Told Eisenhower, he was abandoning his plan, and wanted to give the seconding speech for Nixon’s nomination
Democratic National Convention:
- Stevenson nominated on the first ballot
- Rather than choose his running mate, Stevenson allowed the convention delegates to make the decision
- Vice Presidential candidates Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver, Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy, Tennessee Senator Albert A. Gore, New York City Mayor John F. Wagner, and Minnesota Senator Hubert H. Humphrey.
- Estes Kefauver took the lead in delegate votes on the first ballot, Kennedy won the second ballot, but neither reached the majority needed
- After the second ballot Gore withdrew, gave his delegate support to Kefauver, causing a bandwagon movement for Kefauver
- Kefauver won the Vice Presidential nomination on the third ballot
Number of Ballots to Choose Nominees:
Republican Party Nomination:
Presidential 1st ballot After Shifts
- Dwight D. Eisenhower 595 845
- Robert A. Taft 500 280
- Earl Warren 81 77
- Harold Stassen 20 0
- Douglas MacArthur 10 4
- Thomas E. Dewey 1 0
Democratic Party Nomination:
Presidential 1st Ballot
- Adlai Stevenson 905.5
- Averell Harriman 210
- Lyndon B. Johnson 80
- Stuart Symington 45.5
- Albert Chandler 36.5
- James C. Davis 33
- John S. Battle 32.5
- George B. Timmerman 23.5
- Frank J. Lausche 5.5
Vice Presidential 2nd Ballot 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 Hodges 40 0.5 0
- P.T. Maner 33 0 0
- LeRoy Collins 29 0 0
- Clinton Anderson 16 0 0
- Frank G. Clement 14 0 0
- Pat Brown 1 0 0
- Lyndon Johnson 1 0 0
- Stuart Symington 1 0 0
Convention Keynote Speaker:
Nominating Speech Speakers (President):
- Republican: Representative Charles A Hallack of Indiana
- Democratic Party: Criticized reduction of the U.S. armed forces; end the peace time draft stronger leadership; defense relationships with U.S. allies; hydrogen bombs test ban treaty/agreement with the Soviet Union (H-bombs spread contamination over thousands of miles); Cyprus, French forces in North Africa, Israeli-Palestinian relations, anti-Americanism in Asia; economic growth rate less than previous Democratic administrations
- Republican Party: declarations of faith; economy, both urban and rural, human welfare, federal government integrity, civil rights, immigration, human freedom and peace, national defense, veterans aid, national defense, conservation of natural resources, atomic energy; opposed Stevenson proposals on the draft and H-bombs, as a general Eisenhower was considered the expert of military issues
General Election Controversies/Issues:
Foreign affairs; military issues
Campaign Innovations (General Election):
The television five-minute spot (four minutes and twenty seconds). These series of commercials where more convenient for networks, cheaper for the candidates and since they position in between programming reached more viewers
Major Personalities (General Election):
John F. Kennedy;
Campaign Tactics: Television appearances rather than barnstorming/stumping
- Republican Party: Eisenhower wanted a more dignified befitting the sitting President campaign “on a higher level than in the past.”; restrained Nixon’s red baiting “new Nixon”; Nixon actively campaigned, 42,000 miles in his speaking tour; Eisenhower campaigned less than in 1952, because of his health, gave speeches identifying the domestic and foreign policy record/successes of the administration;
- Democratic Party: energetic campaign, show vigor as opposed to Eisenhower; series of speeches “New America” five policy papers (senior citizens, health, education, natural resources, economic policy);
- Criticized Eisenhower’s decisions with the Suez Canal crisis and Hungarian Revolution; “the total bankruptcy of the administration’s foreign policy”
- End the draft; developing trained professional volunteer defense corps; nuclear bomb test ban treaty
Turning Points (General Election):
- Suez Canal crisis, (Israel, Britain, and France attacked Egypt, prevent nationalization of the Suez Canal) Eisenhower put pressure for cease-fire in the Sinai peninsula (Eisenhower joined with the United Nations and Russia in condemning the Anglo-French-Israeli action and pressured them to withdraw their troops. Eisenhower backed up his words by imposing economic sanctions on the three countries; soon after they withdrew their troops.) Betrayal by American allies.
- Soviet troops suppressing the Hungarian Revolution in Budapest: The Soviet Union brutally invaded Hungary, in an attempt to suppress the Hungarian government’s threat to withdraw from the Warsaw Pact. But Eisenhower chose not to come to the assistance of the Hungarian government, fearful that doing so might touch off a war with the Soviets. Instead, Eisenhower chose to condemn the invasion and to assist the Hungarian refugees.
- The international crises gave Eisenhower the advantage, and enlarged his predicted landslide victory.
- The American people were not willing to change their president at a time of international uncertainty, and Eisenhower’s military record and leadership experience were assets in this climate.
Popular Campaign Slogans:
- “Draft Ike in 1956”
- “Peace and Prosperity” “I still like Ike”
- “Don’t Change the Team in the Middle of the Stream”
- “Adlai and Estes – The Bestest, The Winning Team”
Influential Campaign Appeals or Ads:
- Republican Party: Dwight Eisenhower: “Taxi Driver and Dog” “Women Voters”
- Democratic Party: titled “The Man From Libertyville” Series, to debunk attacks that Stevenson was an aloof egghead, and convince viewers/voters the Democratic Party was “true voice of the American people”
Money Spent (Each Campaign/Party/Overall):
Defining Quotation (Winning Candidate):
- “And finally: they tell us that peace can be guarded-and our nation secured-by a strange new formula. It is this: simultaneously to stop our military draft and to abandon testing of our most advanced military weapons. Here perhaps, I may be permitted to speak in the first person singular. I do not believe that any political campaign justifies the declaration of a moratorium on ordinary common sense. I, both as your President and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States of America, cannot and will not tell you that our quest of peace will be cheap and easy. It may be costly-in time, in effort, in expense, and in sacrifice. And any nation unwilling to meet such demands cannot-and will not-lead the free world down the path of peace.” Dwight Eisenhower, Address at the Hollywood Bowl, Beverly Hills, California, October 19, 1956
Defining Quotation (Losing Candidate):
- “I shall be a candidate for the Democratic nomination for President next year, which, I suspect, is hardly a surprise.” Adlai Stevenson, announcing his candidacy in November 1955
- “The choice will be yours. The profit will be the nation’s.” Adlai Stevenson handing over the Vice Presidential choice to the convention delegates
- As President it would be my purpose to press on in accordance with our platform toward the fuller freedom for all our citizens which is at once our party’s pledge and the American promise. Adlai E. Stevenson, 1956 Democratic Acceptance Speech, Chicago, Illinois, August 17, 1956
- “The idea that you can merchandise candidates for high office like breakfast cereal is the ultimate indignity to the democratic process.” Adlai Stevenson, Democratic candidate, 1956
- “And distasteful as this matter is, I must say bluntly that every piece of scientific evidence we have, every lesson of history and experience, indicates that a Republican victory tomorrow would mean that Richard Nixon would probably be President of this country within the next four years.” Adlai Stevenson implying Eisenhower would not live through the term
- One Stevenson elector defected to an Alabama judge, Walter Jones, as a protest against federal-court-ordered desegregation.
Significant books about the campaign:
Lasting Legacy of Campaign:
- Last campaign with a candidate born in the 19th century
- Last campaign prior to Alaska and Hawaii gaining statehood
- July 26, 1953: Korean War ends, “Eisenhower addresses the American public and announces an armistice in Korea.”
- April 23-June 17, 1954: “The Army-McCarthy hearings begin and continue for two months.” “McCarthyism” declines, Joseph McCarthy is censured by the Senate.
- November 2, 1954: Republicans lose control of Congress in the mid-term elections “Democratic Party narrowly regains control of both houses of Congress.”
- September 24, 1955: “President Dwight Eisenhower suffers a “moderate” heart attack in Denver, Colorado.”
- September 6, 1955: 22nd Prohibition Party National Convention convenes at Camp Mack in Milford, Indiana. The convention consists of 154 delegates from 16 states and DC and 107 votes. A third of the delegates come from Indiana. The convention nominates Enoch A. Holtwick (Illinois) for President and Herbert C. Holdridge (California) for Vice President. Holdridge later withdraws, and the national committee then selects Edward M. Cooper (California).
- November 15, 1955: After a would tour, Adlai Stevenson announces his intention to run again for the Democratic nomination. This time he is not drafted, he has competition for the nomination.
- December 26, 1955: “Eisenhower tries to persuade Richard Nixon to take a cabinet post, and not stand for re-election in 1956 as vice president.”
- Main candidates in the primaries former Illinois Governor and 1952 candidate Adlai Stevenson; and Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver; Stevenson led in the polls; loss Minnesota primary; won California by a 2-1 margin Kefauver wins two more primaries than Stevenson, but withdrew from the race
- President Harry Truman endorses New York Governor Averell Harriman, Harriman continues his campaign through the convention
- February 29, 1956: Eisenhower announces that he will run for a second term as President. Eisenhower announces his candidacy for reelection, after doctors clear his health.
- April 9, 1956: “Eisenhower again urges Nixon to take a cabinet post.”
- April 25, 1956: “Eisenhower announces that Nixon will be his running mate in 1956.”
- May 7, 1956: Socialist Labor Party Convention nominates Eric Hass for President.
- May 31, 1956: “Eisenhower approves U-2 spy flights over the Soviet Union.”
- June 10, 1956: Socialist Party Convention nominates Darlington Hoopes for President.
- June 1956: Eisenhower returns to the hospital for the removal for ileitis, an intestinal obstruction, but returns to work quickly, afterwards again announces his intention to run for reelection.
- July 26, 1956: “Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalizes the Suez Canal.”
- July-August 1956: Harold E. Stassen, President Eisenhower’s special cabinet assistant on disarmament suggests Eisenhower choose a stronger running-mate than Nixon. Stassen suggests Christian A. Herter, Governor of Massachusetts. Stassen campaigns for four-weeks prior to the convention for Herter in an attempt to persuade convention delegates to support Herter
- August 13-17, 1956: Democratic National Convention convenes at the International Amphitheatre in Chicago, Illinois. Sam Rayburn (Texas) serves as chairman. The convention nominates on 1st ballot, Adlai E. Stevenson (Illinois) for President and Estes Kefauver (Tennessee). Stevenson is nominated on the first ballot. Rather than choose his running mate, Stevenson allows the convention delegates to make the decision.
- August 13-17, 1956: Vice Presidential Democratic candidates, include Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver, Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy, Tennessee Senator Albert A. Gore, New York City Mayor John F. Wagner, and Minnesota Senator Hubert H. Humphrey. Estes Kefauver takes the lead in delegate votes on the first ballot, Kennedy wins the second ballot, but neither reaches the majority needed. After the second ballot Gore withdraws, and gives his delegate support to Kefauver, causing a bandwagon movement for Kefauver. Kefauver wins the Vice Presidential nomination on the third ballot.
- August 17, 1956: Adlai E. Stevenson gives his Democratic Presidential nomination acceptance speech at the convention in Chicago, Illinois.
- August 19, 1956: 3rd Socialist Workers Party National Convention convenes in Adelphi Hall in New York City. There are 30 delegates present from 12 states. Nominated Farrell Dobbs for President, Myra T. Weiss for Vice-President.
- August 20-23, 1956: Republican National Convention convenes at Cow Palace, San Francisco renominates on the 1st ballot, Dwight D. Eisenhower (Pennsylvania) for President and Richard M. Nixon (California) for Vice President. California Governor Goodwin J. Knight also runs for Vice-President.
- August 22, 1956: Herter declines to run for the Vice Presidential nomination; Nixon has a majority of delegate support. Stassen tells Eisenhower, he is abandoning his plan, and wants to give the seconding speech for Nixon’s nomination.
- August 23, 1956: Dwight Eisenhower gives his address accepting the Nomination of the Republican National Convention at the Cow Palace.
- August 28, 1956: Constitution Party Convention nominates Thomas Coleman Andrews for President.
- October 15, 1956: 2nd States Rights Party National Convention convenes at Mosque Auditorium in Richmond, Virginia, with 2,200 delegates present. The convention nominates Thomas Coleman Andrews for President and Thomas H. Werdel for Vice President.
- Eisenhower wants a more dignified campaign “on a higher level than in the past “befitting the sitting President. He restrains Nixon’s red baiting “new Nixon”. Nixon actively campaignes, 42,000 miles in his speaking tour; Eisenhower campaigns less than in 1952, because of his health, gives speeches identifying the domestic and foreign policy record/successes of the administration.
- Adlai Stevenson conducts an energetic campaign to show vigor as opposed to Eisenhower;
- Stevenson gives a series of speeches “New America” five policy papers (senior citizens, health, education, natural resources, economic policy)
- Stevenson wants to end the draft; develop a trained professional volunteer defense corps; and a nuclear bomb test ban treaty.
- October 19, 1956: Dwight Eisenhower gives an address at the Hollywood Bowl, Beverly Hills, California.
- October 22, 1956: Hungarian Revolution begins.
- October 23, 1956: Soviet troops suppressing the Hungarian Revolution in Budapest: The Soviet Union brutally invades Hungary, in an attempt to suppress the Hungarian government’s threat to withdraw from the Warsaw Pact. But Eisenhower chose not to come to the assistance of the Hungarian government, fearful that doing so might touch off a war with the Soviets.
- October 24, 1956: Eisenhower chooses to condemn the invasion and to assist the Hungarian refugees. The international crises gives Eisenhower the advantage, and enlarges his predicted landslide victory
- Stevenson criticizes Eisenhower’s decisions with the Suez Canal crisis and Hungarian Revolution; “the total bankruptcy of the administration’s foreign policy”
- October 29-October 31, 1956: Israel, Britain, and France attack Egypt; Eisenhower condemns the attack. Suez Canal crisis, (Israel, Britain, and France attacked Egypt, prevent nationalization of the Suez Canal) Eisenhower puts pressure for cease-fire in the Sinai peninsula (“Eisenhower joins with the United Nations and Russia in condemning the Anglo-French-Israeli action and pressured them to withdraw their troops. Eisenhower backs up his words by imposing economic sanctions on the three countries; soon after they withdrew their troops.”) Betrayal by American allies.
- November 4, 1956: “The Soviet Union crushes the Hungarian Revolution via armed intervention.”
- November 5, 1956: “A cease-fire is established in Egypt.”
- November 6, 1956: Election Day, Republicans Dwight D. Eisenhower is reelected President and Richard M. Nixon is reelected Vice President. The American people are not willing to change their president at a time of international uncertainty, and Eisenhower’s military record and leadership experience are perceived as assets in this climate
- December 17, 1956: Presidential Electors cast the electoral votes in their state’s capitals.