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Two Black Men Named Powell Who Crossed Party Lines On Presidential Endorsements

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.

A strong book about Adam Clayton Powell (below) is Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.: The Political Biography of an American Dilemma by Charles V. Hamilton.

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.

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October 19, 2008 Posted by | Books, Campaign 2008, Election Fact Of The Day, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

What Is The Bradley Effect? Who Was Bradley?

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.

This is the Texas Liberal Election Fact Of The Day.

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?

Nobody knows.

( Please click here for information about black governors in the United States)

(Please click here to read about black U.S. Senators.)

October 12, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Election Fact Of The Day, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Many Presidents Have Died Early In Their Terms—President Palin

When a President has died in office, it has often been quite early in his term. This has often made a big difference in American history.

This is the Texas Liberal Election Fact of the Day.

The first President to die in office, William Henry Harrison, expired just a month into his term. Harrison died in 1841. President Harrison, at 68 the oldest President to that point, was a Whig. His Vice President, John Tyler, was a representative of the Southern planter class picked to help balance the ticket and not in full agreement with the Whig mainstream. As President, Tyler pursued policies, such a veto of a national bank, that greatly distressed Whig leaders such as Henry Clay.

President Zachary Taylor passed on in 1850 after serving just 17 months of his term. He was succeeded by Millard Filmore

Abe Lincoln’s (above)1865 assassination occurred just a month into his second term. His Vice President, Andrew Johnson (below), who had not been Lincoln’s first term VP, had very different views than Lincoln on Reconstruction, and how the South and Southerners should be handled after the Civil War.

Here is a stark difference between the person elected President and the person elected Vice President. The United States got one month of a great President and just under four years of a terrible President. And black folks got a century of Jim Crow.  

James Garfield was shot in the first year of his term in 1881. He died a few months later. Garfield’s successor, Chester Arthur, might well have been an improvement. President Arthur sought Civil Service reform and was surprisingly independeant despite a reputation as a machine politician.

William McKinley was shot and killed in the first year of his second term in 1901. McKinley’s Vice President, Theodore Roosevelt, who like Andrew Johnson had not been the first term VP, was a very different man than McKinley.

Franklin Roosevelt was shot at in 1933 in the time between his election and inauguration. Roosevelt’s Vice President-elect, John Nance Garner was far more conservative than F.D.R. You might never of had a New Deal if Garner had become President instead of Roosevelt.

Roosevelt would later die in the first weeks of his fourth term. Vice President Harry Truman who had not been VP in the first three F.D.R terms, took the White House and did a pretty good job.  

Also, Ronald Reagan was shot and seriously wounded in his first year as President in 1981.

Let’s say you are less than a hardcore Republican, yet are still considering voting for 72 year old John McCain. American history shows us that you may feel you’re voting for Mr. McCain, but that what you really may get is President Sarah Palin.

October 2, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Election Fact Of The Day, History, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

John Q. Adams Won Presidency With 31% Of Vote in 1824—In My Darker Moments About Democracy, This Warms My Heart

In the famous “corrupt bargain” election of 1824, John Quincy Adams won the election even though he won only 30.9% of the popular vote.

This is the Texas Liberal Election Fact of the Day.

In a four-way race, Mr. Adams (photo above) finished second to Andrew Jackson in the popular vote total.

Final popular results were Mr. Jackson of Tennessee 41%, Mr. Adams of Massachusetts 31%, Henry Clay of Kentucky 13%, and William Crawford of Georgia 11%.

31% is the lowest popular percentage ever received by a successful candidate for the Presidency. 

Because no candidate won a majority of the electoral college, the race went to the House of Representatives. ( Here is information about the Electoral College including what happens when no candidate wins an electoral vote majority.)

In the House, Mr. Jackson’s arch-rival, Henry Clay, gave his support to Mr. Adams. This allowed Mr. Adams to win the election in the House. Mr. Clay was subsequently selected by Mr. Adams to serve as Secretary of State. The position of Secretary of State was seen then as a stepping stone to the Presidency.

The charge was made, denied by both President Adams and Secretary Clay of a “Corrupt Bargain.” The allegation was that a deal had been cut exchanging Mr. Clay’s support for the Secreatry of State’s office.

Corrupt Bargain or not, Andrew Jackson easily defeated President Adams in 1828 by a margin 0f 56%-44%.

Some days, when I am down on the people, I take a small measure of satisfaction from this 31% President. He made all those Indian-hating, slave-keeping Jacksonians wait another four years. 

Abe Lincoln won the White House with 39.9% of the vote in his 1860 four-way race. Mr. Lincoln ,however, won enough electoral votes on Election Day. Mr. Lincoln’s total is the second lowest percentage total for a winning candidate.

I believe in democracy, but sometimes, as we all realize, the majority gets it wrong.

September 25, 2008 Posted by | Election Fact Of The Day, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Just One Republican U.S. House Member Left From New England—Let Us Hope He Is Defeated In 2008

There is only one Republican U.S. House member left from New England. There are a total of 22 House members from New England. The six New England states are Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.

This is the Texas Liberal Election Fact of the Day. 

The remaining offending House member is Christopher Shays (Photo above) of Connecticut’s Fourth District. Mr. Shays was first elected in 1987.

This district includes both affluent New York City suburbs and struggling urban centers such as Bridgeport.

Like you and I as individuals, this district is your proverbial study in contrasts. 

In some cases, it may be best to keep at least a few Republicans around. For example, a city council with only Democrats may suggest that all the Republicans have move to the suburbs. A state legislature with one party in longterm total control may make that state legislature an even greater den of corruption. ( I don’t have the highest view of state governments.)

In this case though, the U.S. House won’t be running out of Republicans anytime soon and turncoat U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman can plead for Connecticut among Republicans.

So let’s hope Mr. Shays is defeated.

Running against Mr. Shays is Democrat Jim Himes. Mr. Himes is given a good chance of winning the seat.

The last time one party had full control of the New England House delegation was after the election of 1864. Republicans held all 27 New England seats between for the term completed between 1865 and 1867.

Here is some good information on the election of 1864.

Republicans dominated New England from the Civil War up until the Depression. From the Depression until the 1960’s, the area was somewhat more balanced. Southern New England, more urban, industrial and Catholic, had many Democratic voters. Northern New England stayed, for the most part, with Republicans.

Since the ’60’s, New England has moved more firmly to the Democrats. The Southern/Sunbelt social conservative bent of the modern Republican party has been a turnoff to voters in all six New England states.

(Below is a 1911 scene from Stamford, Connecticut. This is a city in Mr. Shay’s district.) 

September 22, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Election Fact Of The Day, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Third Party Candidates Who Carried A State In A Presidential Election

The following are third party candidates for President who have carried a state in a Presidential Election since after the Civil War.   

This is part of the Texas Liberal Election Fact of the Day series.

1892—Populist candidate James Weaver of Iowa ( photo above) won Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Nevada and North Dakota. Mr. Weaver won 8.5% of the entire vote. Democrat Grover Cleveland of New York won the election. 

1912—Bull Moose Theodore Roosevelt of New York carried California, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Washington. Mr. Roosevelt was also the last third party candidate to finish ahead of a major party nominee. Incumbent President and Republican nominee William Howard Taft of Ohio finished third in 1912. Democrat Woodrow Wilson of New Jersey won the election. In 1912, Mr. Wilson won 42%, Mr. Roosevelt 27%, Mr. Taft 23 % and Socialist Eugene V. Debs of Indiana took 6%.

1924—Progressive Robert La Follette,Sr ( photo below) won his home state of Wisconsin. Mr. La Follette won 17% of the full national vote. Calvin Coolidge of Massachusetts won the election.

1948—Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond of South Carolina carried Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina. Mr. Thurmond won 2.4% overall. He was not on most ballots outside the South. Harry Truman of Missouri won the election.

1968—George Wallace of Alabama won Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi. Mr. Wallace won 13% of the nationwide total. Richard Nixon of California won the election.

Winning a state in a Presidential election is hard to accomplish. Ross Perot was unable to do so in 1992 even while winning 19% of the vote. Third party candidates must have some of concentrated regional appeal, as did Mr. Weaver, Mr. Thurmond and Mr. Wallace. Or maybe they just have to be Theodore Roosevelt.

( I’d suggest Texas Liberal readers check out the links to Weaver, Debs and La Follette. They were progressive and interesting figures.)

No third party seems likely to win a state in 2008.

September 19, 2008 Posted by | Election Fact Of The Day, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Misguided People Of Kansas Have Not Elected Democrat To The Senate Since 1932

It will distress you, though likely not shock you, to know that Kansas has not elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1932.

This is the Texas Liberal Election Fact of the Day. This is a new feature I will post each day I’m  so inclined between now and Election Day.

Direct Election of United States Senators—meaning election by the public instead of selection by state legislatures—began with the enactment of the 17th Amendment in 1913.

In Kansas, the first ever popular election to the Senate was won in 1912 by Democrat William Thompson. Kansas allowed direct election before the Constitution mandated such elections.

A more accurate picture of the political future in Kansas came when Senator Thompson won only 34% in his reelection campaign in 1918.

In 1930, Democrat George McGill ( Picture Above) won a special election fill the term of Charles Curtis who had been elected in 1928 as Vice President under Herbert Hoover.  

The link for Senator McGill is a 1938 letter to the editor of Time Magazine article about the Senator. From the letter– 

In the Senate: Balddomed, small chinned, doleful and dull of mien, Senator McGill has only one conspicuous mannerism—a “haha” which he inexplicably tacks on the end of his infrequent speeches. His voting record is Yes to every Roosevelt proposal: so faithful is he that, along with New Mexico’s Hatch, he tried to launch a substitute Supreme Court bill after the President himself had given up.

Senator McGill was defeated for reelection in 1938 and that was it for Democrats in the Senate from Kansas. No state has gone so long without a Democratic Senator. No state has gone so long shutting out either of the major political parties from the Senate.

Incumbent Republican Kansas Senator Pat Roberts is seeking another term this year and is the strong favorite to win.

The people of Kansas are deeply confused on the question of who would best represent their interests in the United States Senate. They have been confused on this question for very many years now.

September 18, 2008 Posted by | Election Fact Of The Day, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment