Choice of Candidates for the Presidency

January 1, 1944

Report Outline
Pre-Convention Alignments for 1944 Election
Presidential Primaries and Nominating Conventions
Presidential Possibilities for 1944

Pre-Convention Alignments for 1944 Election

War Developments and the Party Nominations

Because of war uncertainties, the identity of the men who will make the race for the presidency is cloaked in more than usual mystery at the opening of the election year 1944. If the war in Europe has come to an end, or victory in that theatre seems close at hand when the national conventions meet in June or July, the relative strength of the leading candidates for the party nominations may present an entirely different picture from that shown by current polls. However, a mediocre or colorless candidate chosen by either party, in a movement “back to normalcy” after the defeat of Hitler, might find himself in serious difficulty with the electorate as casualties were reported in increasing numbers from the Pacific and problems of war were superseded by the more difficult problems of peace in other parts of the world. It is evident that the war, at its present stage, confronts the parties with various imponderable and puzzling factors in their choice of presidential tickets for 1944.

The strength shown by the Republican party in the congressional elections of 1942, and in subsequent off-year elections, is another factor which will have an important bearing on this year's presidential nominations. In the elections of 1942, the Republicans gained 44 seats in the House of Representatives at Washington (leaving the Democrats 222 seats to 209 held by Republicans, with four scattered) and nine seats in the Senate (leaving 57 Democrats, 38 Republicans, one Progressive). A net gain of five state governors was scored by the minority party in 1942, In 1943 the Republicans elected a lieutenant-governor in New York by a margin of 350,000 votes, a governor in New Jersey by 130,000, a governor in Kentucky by 10,000.

The party in control of the national government commonly loses some seats in Congress in the mid-term elections between presidential years. Even a considerable loss in these elections does not necessarily forecast defeat of the party in power in the ensuing contest for the presidency. In the mid-term election of 1938 the Republicans gained 81 seats in the House of Representatives and eight seats in the Senate, but in 1940 Roosevelt was elected for a third term by 449 electoral votes to 82 for Willkie. The present Democratic margin in Congress, however, is considerably smaller than in 1938, and virtually all objective commentators agree that the tide still runs with the Republicans,

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