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Election of 1928: High water mark for Republicans

In August 1927, incumbent President Calvin Coolidge announced to the nation: "I do not choose to run for president in 1928." That blunt statement opened the doors to a number of Republican hopefuls, but none approached the public esteem enjoyed by Herbert Hoover, the current secretary of commerce and possessor of a long record of humanitarian service.

The Republicans assembled in Kansas City the following June and easily nominated Hoover on the first ballot. The vice-presidential nod went to Senator Charles Curtis of Nebraska to soothe feelings of disappointed Midwesterners who backed the presidential ambitions of Frank Lowden, the former governor of Illinois. The platform of 1928 was devoted largely to self-congratulation as the Republicans claimed full credit for the nation`s prosperity and pledged to:

  • continue opposition to the McNary-Haugen farm bill, favoring instead the creation of farmer-owned stabilization corporations as a means to increase farm prices;

  • support the strict enforcement of the 18th Amendment (prohibition);

  • maintain a high protective tariff for the benefit of American farmers and manufacturers;

  • carry on Coolidge-era foreign policy initiatives.
Later in June, the Democrats began their convention in Houston, meeting in a Southern city for the first time since the Civil War. Alfred E. Smith , governor of New York, was also nominated on the first ballot. Smith was the product of the Tammany Hall machine, a Roman Catholic and an avowed "wet" (backing repeal) on prohibition. An effort was made to balance the ticket by nominating Senator Joseph T. Robinson of Arkansas, a Protestant and a "dry," for vice president. The 1928 Democratic platform called for the following:
  • a farm policy that would give American farmers government support commensurate with that provided to other industries, but avoided an endorsement of the contentious McNary-Haugen bill;

  • enforcement of prohibition laws, but it was clear to all observers that the Democratic nominee was opposed to this position; this effort to take both sides of a nettlesome issue would cost the party heavily in the Bible Belt;

  • opposition to the blanket use of injunctions and support for collective bargaining rights for American workers;

  • a change in the heavy-handed Coolidge foreign policy and, in particular, the granting of immediate independence to the Philippines;

  • a transformation in government to escape the scandals of Republican leadership; the Democrats deftly avoided reference to the nation`s prosperity and instead tried to dredge up memories of Harding`s corrupt cronies.
The Democrats, for once, chose not to include a strong plank opposing the protective tariff, a move made in deference to strong farm support for those measures.

The campaign of 1928 marked a change from the staid front-porch efforts of earlier years to a more active style. Radio played a surprisingly important role. Hoover, who was not an impressive public speaker, came across to listeners as measured and thoughtful. Smith, however, was an inspiring speaker, but his New York accent and regional pronunciation of words grated on the ears of many Westerners and Southerners.

In late October, Hoover delivered what came to be known as his "rugged individualism" speech to an audience in New York. He criticized the Democrats for their socialistic policies and preached the virtues of open competition and private enterprise. Capitalizing on a continuing strong economy, Hoover promised the voters "a chicken for every pot and a car in every garage." Many Americans came to regard Hoover, who had never previously run for elective office, as a new type of politician — a highly successful businessman, but with the added attribute of a social conscience.

Huge numbers of voters turned out on November 6, 1928, and handed Hoover and the Republicans a resounding victory. The Democrats lost by more than six million votes, but carried a dozen of the nation`s largest cities. Their hold on the so-called "Solid South" was broken, however; Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, and Texas voted Republican.

In a nutshell, the nation did not feel a compelling need to make a change in leadership in 1928. The fact that Smith was a Catholic, a wet, a machine politician and sounded strange when he spoke made the decision of many voters an easy one.

Election of 1928
Candidates
Party
Electoral
Vote
Popular
Vote
Herbert C. Hoover (Cal.)
Charles Curtis (Kansas)
Republican
444
21,392,190
Alfred E. Smith (New York)
Joseph T. Robinson (Arkansas)
Democratic
87
15,016,443
Norman Thomas (New York)
James H. Maurer (Pennsylvania)
Socialist
0
267,420
William Z. Foster (Illinois)
Benjamin Gitlow (New York)
Workers`
(Communist)
0
48,770
Verne L. Reynolds (Maryland)
Socialist
Labor
0
21,603
William F. Varney (New York)
James A. Edgerton (Washington)
Prohibition
0
20,106
Frank E. Webb
Farmer
Labor
0
6,390

Electoral Vote 1928

AL
12
IL
29
MN
12
NC
12
TX
20
AZ
3
IN
15
MS
10
ND
5
UT
4
AR
9
IA
13
MO
18
OH
24
VT
4
CA
13
KS
10
MT
4
OK
10
VA
12
CO
6
KY
13
NE
8
OR
5
WA
7
CT
7
LA
10
NV
3
PA
38
WV
8
DE
3
ME
6
NH
4
RI
5
WI
13
FL
6
MD
8
NJ
14
SC
9
WY
3
GA
14
MA
18
NM
3
SD
5


ID
4
MI
15
NY
45
TN
12



---- Selected Quotes ----

Quotes regarding Election of 1928: High water mark for Republicans.

By Herbert Hoover
Our country has deliberately undertaken a great social and economic experiment, noble in motive and far-reaching in purpose.
Speech regarding Prohibition
By Herbert Hoover
Bureaucracy is ever desirous of spreading its influence and its power. You cannot extend the mastery of the government over the daily working life of a people without at the same time making it the master of the people's souls and thoughts.
Campaign Speech in New York City, October, 1928
By Republican Party
A chicken in every pot, a car in every garage.
Republican campaign slogan in 1928

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The Political Graveyard: Election of 1928
Questions? Return to The Political Graveyard main page. Election of 1928 Electoral College Details President HERBERT HOOVER: 444 electoral votes Arizona (3), California (13), Colorado (6), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), Florida (Election of 1928 Electoral College Details President HERBERT HOOVER: 444 electoral votes Arizona (3), California (13), Colorado (6), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), Florida (6), Idaho (4 ...
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Presidential Election of 1928
We shall soon with the help of God be in sight of the day when poverty will be banished from this land." Alfred Smith was nominated by the Democrats at their convention in Houston on the second ballot. Smith was the first Roman Catholic to run ...
http://www.historycentral.com/elections/1928.html

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