In 33 of the 36 midterm elections held since the end of the Civil War, the party in the White House has lost seats in the United States House of Representatives.
We need to recall this as the 2010 midterm elections approach. There are underlying patterns in all things. This historical fact and pattern of midterm losses for the party holding the Presidency is one that has impacted both major parties over many years.
Beginning with 1866, only in 1934, 1998 and 2002 has the party holding the White House gained in the U.S. House.
In 1934, Democrats picked up nine seats to add onto an already large majority, as President Roosevelt remained popular and Republicans continued to be associated with the 1929 crash.
In 1998, Democrats won five new seats as part of the backlash against the Republican vote for the impeachment of President Clinton. Despite the Democratic pick-ups, Republicans retained narrow control of the House.
In 2002, Republicans gained seven House seats in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks and due to the widespread public support of President George W. Bush at that point. This allowed Republicans to expand a slight House majority.
(Below–Dennis Hastert of Illinois was selected House Speaker in 1999 and held the office through 2007. Mr. Hastert was the longest serving Republican Speaker in Congressional history.)
What each of these elections has in common is that they took place in the shadow of larger history-making events. The Great Depression. A vote to impeach the President. The September 11 hijackings.
While in some cases the party occupying the White House has lost only a few House seats, the trend is unmistakable. Midterm elections offer voters a chance to vent against the party holding the Presidency.
In terms of a switch of party control in the House, this has occurred ten times in the 36 post-Civil War midterms. This is something I’ll be writing about in an upcoming post. I’ll also soon be discussing Senate results in midterms.
Liberals and all Democrats should recall that what is taking place today is is often how it is in our politics. It is difficult to see republicans doing well for the moment, but there is reason for hope in the days ahead.
Liberals and all Democrats should also recall that the election has not yet been held.
Consider donating or volunteering in the weeks ahead to the Democrat of your choice.
Here is some history of the House from the House Clerk. You can find, among many other things, the party breakdown for each session of Congress at this site.
A useful book is House–The History of the House of Representatives by Robert Remini.
The switch of Arlen Specter from Republican to Democrat leaves Republicans with just 40 Senators in the 100 seat Senate. After Al Franken is seated in Minnesota there will be 58 Democrats and 2 independents who mostly vote with the Democrats in the Senate.
( Above–Arlen Specter with Martin Luther King. Please click here for the best Martin Luther King reading list on the web.)
This weak Republican presence in the Senate is not out of line with Republican membership in the Senate since the 1929 stock crash. Beginning with the 1930 election, the first after the crash, Democrats have reached 60 or more seats in the Senate 11 times. Mr. Franken’s seating will make that 12 times.
The peak of Democratic control was the 76 seats won in the 1936 election.
(Below–Charles McNary of Oregon was leader of the very small Republican Senate minority after the 1936 election.)
The Republican high since 1930 is just 55 seats. This mark was reached in the elections of 1996, 1998 and 2004. The last time Republicans were as strong in the Senate as are Democrats today was after the election of 1920 when they had 59 seats. The Senate at that time had only 96 seats as Alaska and Hawaii were not yet part of the union.
Democrats have won more than 55 seats in the Senate 20 times since 1929 in contrast to the inability of Republicans to win as many of 56 seats since that year.
( Here is the link to the web home of the U.S. Senate. There is a lot of information to be found at the Senate site. Here is a link to the divisions by party going back to the beginning of the Senate in 1789.)
The last time Republicans reached 60 seats was the election of 1908. Republicans won 60 seats that year in what was a 92 seat Senate.
Democrats have had two main periods of dominance in the Senate since was 1929. In the years between and including the first election of Franklin Roosevelt in 1932, and his final election in 1944, Democrats never fell below 57 seats.
( Below—Republican Robert Taft of Ohio was Senate Majority Leader at the time of his death in 1953. )
In 1958 Democrats won 65 seats and in 1978 they took 58. In between those years, they never went lower than 54 and seven times eclipsed 60.
(Below–Mike Mansfield of Montana was Majority Leader of the Senate 1961-1977. That is the longest tenure in that position.)
Republicans have only had two stretches since 1929 where they’ve won control of the Senate in consecutive elections.
In the Reagan years, Republicans ran the Senate after the 1980, 1982 and 1984 elections. After the Republican Congressional landslide of 1994, Republicans won at least 50 seats each election up to and including 2004. Though after the 2000 election Republican control was ended when Jim Jeffords of Vermont switched to the Democrats giving Democrats a 51-49 edge.
( Below–Howard Baker of Tennessee served as both Majority Leader and Minority Leader of the Senate.)
A qualification to all this could be that many Democrats in the years of Democratic control since 1929 were Southern Democrats who often voted with Republicans. True control of the Senate often eluded the more progressive elements of the Democratic Party.
There is truth to that qualification. But it must be said that the New Deal and Great Society programs that conservatives would like to undo were passed in these years. Civil Rights legislation also passed in these years though it took a long time and required the principled support of some Republicans in the Senate.
Today’s strong Democratic majority has moderate members, but nothing like the segregationists of the past.
For 40 years, since the Sunbelt driven election of Richard Nixon in 1968, we’ve been hearing about the supposed realignment of American politics towards Republicans. Well–Where is it?
Today’s Democratic majorities and the states that Barack Obama won come from all around the nation. In the South, Mr. Obama won North Carolina, Virgina and Florida. Senator Specter’s switch only adds to the 80 years and counting slump of the Republican Party in the U.S. Senate.
( Coming soon -A look at membership of the U.S. House of Representatives since 1929. The story is much the same as it has been in the Senate.)
(Below—Democrat Robert Byrd of West Virginia has seen a lot of Senate history since he entered the Senate in 1959. He is the longest serving Senator ever.)
Far-right activists are staging so-called “tea parties” on April 15 to protest the fact that in a free society one must pay taxes and abide by the decisions of the electorate. (Old-time image of tea party above.)
The claim being made by these extreme elements, when they are not advocating violence, is that somehow we are moving towards tyranny.
By trying to steal the symbolism of the Boston Tea Party, Republicans and the extreme right (no distinction appears to exist between the two) are confusing the idea of no taxation without representation with bitterness about losing last November’s election.
Below is from the web home of a tea party web site. They say here that “Revolution is brewing.” Just what does that mean? Is it violence? What do they think a revolution is in this context?
Today’s Southern-based overwhelmingly white American right has nothing to do with the legacy of the Boston Tea Party.
The only historical tradition these people are drawing upon is that of the treason of the first shot fired on Fort Sumter in 1861 to begin the Civil War. (Engraving below.)
America does have a visible representative of the best and most inclusive traditions of American History— The America of Thomas Paine, William Lloyd Garrison, Abe Lincoln, Susan B. Anthony, Sitting Bull, Franklin Roosevelt, Martin Luther King and Caesar Chavez.
That leader is the President of the United States and his name is Barack Hussein Obama.
Which states have our Presidents called home? Which states have been the home states of the most Presidents?
(Above–John Tyler. He was the last President from Virginia.)
By home state. I mean the place where a President held office before becoming President. In one case—Dwight Eisenhower—there was really no home state. He did a lot of moving around. So I’ve made him “stateless.”
Zachary Taylor,a general like Eisenhower, is a close call on this matter. But he did live at a plantation he owned in Louisiana and his regional identity had a role in his election as President. So I’ll count Taylor as from Louisiana.
There are a few ways you could look at the question of what Presidents are from what states. You could list each state and count the number of Presidents from that state. This is what is done on the first list below.
You geta somewhat different picture if you limit the list only to Presidents who were elected, and exclude Vice Presidents who became President, but who never won election on their own. (These Presidents are Tyler, Fillmore, A. Johnson, Arthur, and Ford.) Doing it this way offers a sense of states and regions of the nation in the ascendancy at a given time. This is how the second list is complied.
(Below–Gerald Ford, in college here at the U. of Michigan, was not elected to the Presidency.)
Overall, 17 of the 50 states can claim a President.
New York (6) —Van Buren (8), Fillmore (13), Arthur (21), Cleveland (22 & 24), T. Roosevelt (26), F. Roosevelt (32)
Ohio (6) —W.H. Harrison (9), Hayes (19), Garfield (20), McKinley (25), Taft (27), Harding (29)
Virginia (5) — Washington (1) , Jefferson (3) , Madison (4) , Monroe (5), Tyler (10)
Massachusetts (4) — John Adams (2) , J.Q. Adams (6), Coolidge (30), Kennedy (35)
Tennessee (3) —Jackson (7), Polk (11), A. Johnson (17)
Illinois (3) —Lincoln (16), Grant (18), Obama (44)
California (3)—Hoover (31), Nixon (37), Reagan (40)
Texas (3) — L. Johnson (36), G.H.W. Bush (41), G.W. Bush (43)
New Hampshire— Pierce (14)
Indiana—B. Harrison (23)
New Jersey—Wilson (28)
(Below–Woodrow Wilson throwing out the first pitch in 1916.)
Lsit # 2—-
1789, 1792—Virginia (Washington)
1796—Massachusetts (John Adams)
1800, 1804, 1808, 1812, 1816, 1820—Virginia ( Jefferson, Madison, Monroe)
1828, 1832—Tennessee (Jackson)
1836—New York (Van Buren)
1840–Ohio (W. Harrison)
1852—New Hampshire (Pierce)
1860, 1864, 1868, 1872—Illinois (Lincoln, Grant)
1876, 1880—Ohio (Hayes, Garfield)
1884—New York (Cleveland)
(Below–Grover Cleveland in 1905. He left the White House, for a second time, in 1897.)
1892—New York (Cleveland)
1896, 1900—Ohio (McKinley)
1904—New York (T.Roosevelt)
1912, 1916—New Jersey (Wilson)
1932, 1936, 1940, 1944—New York (F.Roosevelt)
1968, 1972—California (Nixon)
(Below–Jimmy Carter in 1937.)
1980, 1984—California (Reagan)
1988—Texas (G.H.W. Bush)
1992, 1996—Arkansas (Clinton)
2000, 2004—Texas (G.W.Bush)
Our first six Presidents came from either Virginia or Massachusetts. Then there was a move west and towards the frontier with Jackson and Polk of Tennessee. Between 1860 and 1908 every elected President was from either Illinois, Ohio or New York. Hoover of California was in 1928 the first President from the West Coast. Beginning with Lyndon Johnson in 1964, every President gaining the White House by election was from either the Sunbelt or the South. Barack Obama of Illinois broke that trend in 2008.
Two good books to learn about the Presidents are The American Presidency–The Authoritative Reference edited by Alan Brinkley and Davis Dyer and The Complete Book Of U.S. Presidents by William Degregorio. These books compliment each other well. The first provides short essays about each President’s term and the second is more biographical information.
(Below–A bunch of them in one place.)
What if recently deposed Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick had announced himself a god? Would this have kept him from losing his post? Is declaring himself a god an option to save the career of politically troubled Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich? (above)
Let’s review the record from antiquity.
In his History of Government from the Earliest Times–Volume I, Ancient Monarchies and Empires, the late Oxford political scientist S.E. Finer addressed the subject of rulers as gods or as chosen by heaven.
In ancient Egypt, the Pharaoh asserted divinity. Professor Finer wrote that these claims held the most weight in the early years of the Egyptian kingdom. But in time, as Pharaohs lasted for only brief stretches before dying or being usurped, the claim to divininty must have been nearly impossible for anyone to really believe.
In this era of 24 hour cable news and irreverent coverage by political blogs, it would seem, at best, that only some of the public would believe a claim by a leader that he or she was a god. If rulers had a hard time maintaining the fiction back in ancient Egypt, imagine convincing people today.
Professor Finer also wrote that the Egyptians responded to the diminished stature of the Pharaoh’s person by giving the throne divinity more so than the individaul holding the throne.
“In my view…originally the (pharaohs) person was a sacred person, because, in accordance with certain rules or portents, he was, uniquely, indicated as the rightful possessor of the throne. But later it was the throne that made the king..irrespective of a particular individuals personal history or qualities.”
By this logic, the holder of the office of Speaker of the Texas House or the Governorship of Illinois would be a god by definition. It would not make any difference if Mr. Craddick or Mr. Blagojevich were gods because their successors would be gods as well. This, in my view, would limit the value of declaring yourself a god. No matter what, you’re going to get a god in the position.
In ancient China, the Emperor had the “Mandate of Heaven.”
“…the Chinese emperorship…was irreducibly ritualistic: ying-yang and the perfect harmony of Earth, Man ans Heaven turned exclusively upon the emperor’s actions….so the emperor, the Son of Heaven, was sacred because he alone could offer to Heaven the supreme sacrifices and maintain the harmony between the terrestrial order and the cosmos.”
Reading this you’d think a politician looking for a firm hold on power would try to establish himself as holding such importance. But the power of the Chinese emperor came with a catch not unlike what we have already seen in Egypt. The presumption was that if you challenged the emperor and prevailed, that you then had the Mandate of Heaven.
The verdict here, informed by history, is that declaring yourself to be god or as heaven-sent is not a viable strategy to keep political power. Though it sure would be fun if someone would try. It does seem possible that Governor Blagojevich has at least considered this idea.
Above is the 1889 Inauguration of Benjamin Harrison.
Here is the link to the Benjamin Harrison home in Indianapolis. I’m glad to be able to report that I’ve visited this home.
Here is a comprehensive profile of President Harrison. Mr. Harrison was a Republican who served from 1889-1893. From the profile—
“When Harrison lost his bid for reelection in 1892 to Grover Cleveland, he had himself partly to blame. He had frozen out many of those who should have been most active in his support, and his own party was lukewarm toward him. Additionally, midway through this second election, near the end of Harrison’s term, his wife, Caroline, died of tuberculosis. Her illness and eventual death greatly distracted him, which accounts in part for the magnitude of his defeat. In 1892, the voters handed Cleveland the most decisive presidential victory in twenty years. Harrison told his family he felt as though he had been freed from prison.”
President Harrison (below) always struck me as possibly having food in his beard.
The first Presidential inauguration took place on April 30, 1789 in New York City. The above painting of the event was completed in 1899. It does not appear that the general public was invited.
I guess the bloggers and media of the day had to stand out on street corners ringing bells and yelling out the day’s events.
Though members of the public who wished to mark and remember the event could buy buttons to note the day. The souvenir trade is a longstanding enterprise.
The swearing in took place in Federal Hall which is located at 26 Wall Street. This building, which still stands, was the first capitol of the United States. Below is what Federal Hall looks like today. Federal Hall is now run by the National Park Service. Here is the web home for Federal Hall.
Below is a rendering of George Washington and Abe Lincoln celebrating the election of Barack Obama. They are very happy.
While progress is not inevitable, nor once made irreversible, there is much to be said from the progression, and I think progression is the correct word, from the days of George Washington to the days of Barack Obama.
It is progress from the closed circle in 1789 evident in the painting at the top of this post, to the open festivities we will see later this month. ( Though what would President Washington have made of all the security our celebrations later this month will require?)
Hopefully, President-elect Obama will conduct the office in a way that will continue to enlarge the circle of American opportunity in these hard times. Though we hope that we can trust Mr. Oabma, we must not forget that we as citizens will need to keep on him all the time.
This all took place in the years after the terrible Hurricane of 1900. The 1900 hurricane killed many thousands of people.
In Galveston it says this—“In 1886, a commission of city leaders considered building a seawall to protect Galveston Island. Citizens rejected this proposal because it seemed costly and unnecessary.”
When folks are voting this year on the absurd idea to do away with the income tax in Massachusetts, or voting for McCain because they just can’t accept a black President, think about the folks in Galveston in 1886. If they had been a bit more forward looking they would have likely escaped a great tragedy.
Please think before you vote.
(Below–Galveston in 1900)
A kind Texas Liberal reader by the name of Kathleen has e-mailed me asking the results of recent Presidential elections in Texas.
You will see that Texas has voted Democratic for President just once since Lyndon Johnson of Texas left the White House. Regretfully, 2008 seems likely to continue that pattern.
Here is how Texas has voted for President since 1948.
Truman (D) 65.4%
Dewey (R) 24.6%
Thurmond (Dixiecrat) 9.3%
Eisenhower (R) 53.1%
Stevenson (D) 46.7%
Eisenhower (R) 55.3%
Stevenson (D) 44.0%
Kennedy (D) 50.5%
Nixon (R) 48.5%
(Below–Richard Nixon in World War II.)
Johnson (D) 63.3%
Goldwater (R) 36.5%
Humphrey (D) 41.1%
Nixon (R) 39.9%
Wallace (I) 19.0%
Nixon (R) 66.2%
McGovern (D) 33.3%
Carter (D) 51.1%
Ford (R) 48.0%
Reagan (R) 55.3%
Carter (D) 41.4%
Anderson (I) 2.5%
Reagan (R) 63.6%
Mondale (D) 36.1%
Bush (R) 56.0%
Dukakis (D) 43.3%
Bush (R) 40.6%
Clinton (D) 37.1%
Perot (Reform) 22.0%
(Below–Clinton, Bush and Perot in 1992.)
Dole (R) 48.8%
Clinton (D) 43.8%
Perot (Reform) 6.7%
Bush (R) 59.3%
Gore (D) 38.0%
Nader (G) 2.2%
Bush (R) 61.1%
Kerry 38.2 %
(Below–George W. Bush)
Thanks to Kathleen for the question.
I have many reference sources on politics and would be happy to reply to any question on American political history that you the blog reader might have. Just leave a question in the comment space.
Thank you for reading Texas Liberal.
( Please click here for one of the most popular posts ever on Texas Liberal—Blog Readers Demand To Know What Is Done With Shamu’s Body After He Dies.)
In these years, I would have been looking for support of abolition, an active federal government that unified the country with roads and canals, and just treatment of Native Americans.
1824 marked a turning point away from the so-called Era of Good Feelings of almost non-existent political competition for the White House, and the awarding of electoral votes by state legislatures. What replaced these things was much greater partisanship, and the awarding of electoral votes based on the legitimacy of the popular vote.
Here is how I would have voted 1824-1852—
1824—This election might have been the first time I would have been very enthusiastic for my pick. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams was an advocate of internal improvements and a foe of slavery.
Adams won the race in the House of Representatives in what’s termed the “Corrupt Bargain.” Campaign rival Henry Clay of Kentucky gave Adams his support after no candidate won an Electoral Vote majority on Election Day. Adams later appointed Clay as his Secretary of State. This enraged Andrew Jackson of Tennessee who had won the most popular votes in the four-way race of 1824.
Adams was at one time a man of the future in his views and policies, while also a man of the past as a son of John Adams and a former Federalist.
1828—I would have supported President Adams for reelection. Sadly, he never had a chance. Andrew Jackson was the easy winner. This was a triumph of the average man and as such a kind of progress. It was also a victory for small and inadequate government in the expanding nation, for the interests of slaveholders and, for many Native Americans, a death sentence.
1832—With hesitation, I would have backed Henry Clay against Jackson. Though President Jackson would have scored some points for his slapping down of John Calhoun (above) and South Carolina in the Nullification Crisis. This was an assertion of national government at the expense of states rights. It was not, however, a blow against slavery. Clay was a champion of more helpful and active federal government with his “American System.” He offered little on the other issues I would have liked to have seen addressed. Jackson won the election.
1836—There was little to be be glad about in 1836. Vice President Martin Van Buren of New York offered, somewhat implausibly , more Jacksonian empowerment of the everyman. The Whig opposition was divided between three regional candidates in the hope of denying Van Buren an Electoral College win and forcing the election into the House. It was an ineffective strategy that offered little hope. Van Buren won. ( Van Buren was both a political organizer and thinker who played a large role in the development of political parties in the United States. He is worth further study.)
1840—This election offered the choice of another term for the states rights Democrat Van Buren, or accepting the notion that Whig William Henry Harrison (Tomb below. I’ve been there many times.) of Ohio was for common back woodsman. The Panic of 1837 left Van Buren vulnerable and he lost. Since in an effort to keep Southern support Whigs had done nothing on slavery, I would not have been with Harrison.
1844— This election would be first time I’d have the chance to support a third-party candidate in protest of the inaction of the two major parties on slavery. Liberty Party nominee James Birney of New York would have won my vote over both Democrat James K. Polk of Tennessee and Whig Henry Clay. Birney ended up with 2.3% of the vote.
Some might have argued that Polk’s support for the annexation of Texas and extension of slavery this implied should have been reason enough to vote for Clay. Clay opposed annexation. But by this point I would have had been more than tired of waiting on slavery.
1848—Again I would have voted on the issue of slavery. Martin Van Buren, of all people, was the nominee of the Free Soil Party. His running mate was Charles Francis Adams of Massachusetts. Adams was the son of J.Q. Adams.
Van Buren was on whatever side of the a question that would keep him in the political game. I’m sure I would seen him for what he was. Yet by 1848 slavery was the only question left. ( Indian Removal should have been on the same level. But it was not.)
Whig Zachary Taylor of Louisiana won the election. The Free Soil ticket won 10%.
The Liberty party was better on slavery that the Free Soil party. I would have been disappointed by the step backwards. The Liberty party was for abolition while Free Soilers focused on stopping the expansion of slavery.
1852—By 1852 the nation was dividing strongly along sectional lines. The Compromise of 1850 was the leading issue. But whatever side of the Compromise you were on in the conventional sense, you still supporting slavery. Abolition was not on the table for the major parties.
What Hath God Wrought–The Transformation of America, 1815-1848is a Pulitzer Prize winning account of most of the period covered in this post.
David Leip’s Atlas of U.S Presidential Elections is a great source to see how the people voted in the elections referenced above.
(Slavery was the biggest issue in the United States in 1852.)
Next up will be my picks for President 1856-1876.
Former General and Secretary of State Colin Powell (above), a Republican, has endorsed Barack Obama for President.
General Powell is not the first well-known black man named Powell to cross party lines with a Presidential endorsement.
In 1956 Harlem Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., a Democrat, endorsed President Dwight Eisenhower over Democratic challenger Adlai Stevenson. (The first link in the sentence is to a good essay on the A.C. Powell endorsement. It provides a sense of Mr. Powell and some context for his endorsement of Eisenhower.)
This is the Texas Liberal Election Fact of the Day.
Governor Stevenson, despite a reputation as a so-called liberal, had a poor record on Civil Rights. Mr. Stevenson had the support of many in the Dixiecrat wing of the Democratic Party, and often seemed more concerned with that support instead of making progress on issues of racial justice.
A good book about the silence on questions of Civil Rights by many leading political and literary figures of the mid-20th century, is Divided Minds by Indiana University professor Carol Polsgrove.
Adam Clayton Powell is a figure worth study. He was a strong advocate for Civil Rights and a greatly flawed figure at the same time. He had both legislative success and an inability to keep himself out of trouble. Few people could be both so right and so wrong at one time.
Mr. Powell served in Congress 1945-1971. Seemingly past his day, he was defeated in the 1970 Democratic primary by Charles Rangel. Mr. Rangel still serves in Congress and has had some problems of his own in recent months.
If I’d been around, who would I have supported for President between the years 1788 and 1820?
Without knowing the past, we can’t grasp the present.
In the years 1788-1820, I would have been looking for a strong federal government, an expansion of our new found freedoms to include all people, and just treatment of Native Americans.
As it turned out, by 1820 there was little doubt that America was one nation united, it’s just that this unity often came at the expense of the freedoms and just treatment I would have hoped for.
Elections in these days were not decided by popular vote. Candidates were often nominated by caucuses of sitting members of Congress. This was the so-called King Caucus. Electoral votes were won by votes in state legislatures.
1788—In the first Presidential election, I’d have backed George Washington of Virginia (above as painted by Gilbert Stuart.) I would have felt the new nation needed a solid start, and that General Washington would be best to provide that foundation. Also, General Washington had no opponent in 1788.
1792—Washington was again the only candidate. Though by this point an opposition was emerging to the ruling Federalists.
1796—While I would have been concerned by the elitist tendencies of Federalist Alexander Hamilton, I would have supported Federalist Party Vice President John Adams of Massachusetts. In part this is because I’m a native New Englander. More meaningfully, Thomas Jefferson’s vision of an agrarian slave holding republic would not have held much appeal. Adams beat Jefferson of Virginia in 1800.
Jefferson’s candidacy can be seen as a beginning of the very successful Democratic-Republican Party.
1800—While I would have been turned off by Adams’ Alien & Sedition Acts, I would have supported President Adams over repeat challenger Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson’s view against standing armies in peacetime and his advocacy of slavery and states rights would have gone against my support of strong central government and a move towards the end of slavery. Jefferson won the election.
1804—The Federalist party was in disarray in 1804 and there was hardly a contest. I would have softened on Jefferson to a degree because of the Louisiana Purchase. This was an act of an assertive federal government no matter what Jefferson put forth as the official line. The Federalist was Charles Pinckney of South Carolina. Pinckney had a record of work and support for a strong federal government. By 1804 though, he had moved towards a more southern influenced view of these questions. I don’t think I would have backed either candidate.
( Below—The Louisiana Purchase and what America was in 1810.)
1808—This time it was Pinckney against Secretary of State James Madison of Virginia. At this point it would have all seemed useless. Many Virginia Federalists bolted and supported Madison. The narrowing of the Federalist party gave the party an increasingly aristocratic tint. I would have been frustrated in 1808.
Where were the champions of an America both more free and not looking towards the South? Madison won the election.
1812—Opposition to the Democratic-Republicans and the Virgina Dynasty got a moderate lift from debate over war with England. This is what would become known as the War of 1812. I would of have had a tough call in 1812. Democratic-Republican dissident DeWitt Clinton of New York was endorsed by Federalists to run against President Madison.
I would have liked Clinton for his role as “Father of the Erie Canal.” The canal helped unify the country. I would have been suspicious of the motives behind the War of 1812. I would have seen the war as about protecting the Southern cotton trade and as a vehicle to stop British assistance to Native Americans resisiting the advance of the United States across their lands.
On the other hand, I would have noted the nationalist sentiments behind the war and seen these feelings as, over the long haul, likely leading to the undermining of the states rights position.
( Below–The Erie Canal at Kirkville, New York. Looks like a nice place for a picnic.)
I think I would have gone with Clinton. Madison won the election.
General Andrew Jackson’s victory at the Battle of New Orleans at the end of the War of 1812 helped set off an agressive white man’s democratic nationalism that I would have seen as a logical extension of Jefferson’s views many years earlier.
1816—I would have sat 1816 out. Opposition to the Democratic-Republican Party took the form of 1814’s Hartford Convention. Secession was an option considered at this meeting by some of the leading remaining Federalists. I could have never had gone for that program. Secretary of State James Monroe of Virginia won the White House in 1816. In this so-called Era of Good Feelings election, Monroe won easily.
1820—Monroe was reelected without opposition. This would be the last election before the popular vote of eligible white males become the deciding factor.
David Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential Electionsis the best online source of Presidential election history.
The Penguin History of the USA by Hugh Brogan is a great one volume history of the nation.
Next up will be my Presidential choices for the years between 1824 and 1852.
( Below–White House portrait of James Monroe. I don’t think he is gazing out at the future. Monroe was the last of the Virginia Dynasty.)
The so-called “Bradley Effect” is a topic of conversation and, for Democrats, concern in the 2008 campaign.
What is the Bradley effect? Who was Bradley?
The Bradley effect is the idea that persons contacted by pollsters lie about support for a black candidate for public office. They tell the pollster they support a black candidate because they don’t wish to be seen as racist. But when they go to vote, they vote for the white candidate in the race instead of the black person they had told the pollster they favored.
A recent Associated Press story suggests that Senator Obama will have to have a lead in the polls of at least six points to overcome this factor on Election Day. This idea is disputed by a leading analyst of poll data. This New York Times article discusses the issue.
The term Bradley effect comes from the 1982 election for Governor of California. Los Angles Mayor Tom Bradley ( photo above), a black man, was leading in the polls over California Attorney General George Deukmejian. Mr. Bradley was a Democrat and Mr. Deukmejian a Republican.
Despite Mr. Bradley’s lead in the polls, Mr. Deukmejian won the election by a small margin.
From the New York Times 1998 obituary of Mayor Bradley—
“Tom Bradley, the sharecropper’s son who became Mayor of Los Angeles and presided over the city for two decades of explosive growth and change, died yesterday..He was 80. Mr. Bradley was Mayor from 1973 to 1993, an era in which Los Angeles was transformed from a collection of suburban neighborhoods to what Mr. Bradley liked to call a ”world-class city,” a place with glittering skyscrapers, a striking new skyline and a vibrant downtown…. His election as the first black Mayor of Los Angeles, which was then the nation’s third largest city and largely white, reflected a significant change in local politics in the United States. For most of that time, Mr. Bradley was an immensely popular figure whose stately bearing and placid demeanor seemed to reassure his increasingly polyglot city….Soft-spoken and self-effacing, Mr. Bradley shunned some of the perquisites that his stature and office might have brought him. Calling it a foolish waste of money, he refused to use a cellular telephone that was installed in his car, a former aide recalled. Still, Mr. Bradley learned to move as easily in the society of the fabulously wealthy as he did in the world of the poor and disadvantaged from which he had come.”
Is the Bradley effect for real? Have we moved ahead in the 26 years since 1982? Will a kind of reverse Bradley effect take place this year where Senator Obama actually gains votes because he is black?
Due to other obligations, I was not home for the debate last night between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin. I have it recorded, but I don’t think I’ll watch it. That would be 90 minutes of my life I’d be unable to get back.
I got home last night around midnight and saw some headlines online suggesting the debate had been pretty much a draw. Though some focus groups felt Senator Biden had done better. The two print newspapers I get each morning also said both candidates had done well enough and that no knock-out punch had been delivered.
That tells me pretty much what I need to know. A great thing about live TV is that you can’t be sure one of the candidates won’t walk over the other and unload a kick in the shin. Once you realize that nothing like that took place, it all seems a bit less interesting.
I’ve written before that I make a point to spend only so much time following the Presidential campaign. It is not an edifying process. You’d be better off reading a good book of American political history such as America’s Three Regimes–A New Political History by Morton Keller. Reading a book of political history provides more context about what is taking place now in politics than yet another tracking poll or debates over lipstick.
If the debate between Vice Presidential candidates has made you wonder about the history of the office and the people who have served as Vice President, the U.S. Senate has an excellent web home for the Vice Presidency. There is a history of the office and strong profiles of each of our Vice Presidents.
Above is Vice President Thomas Marshall of Indiana who served as Vice President under Woodrow Wilson between 1913 and 1921. Vice President Marshall was kept out of the loop after President Wilson had his stroke.