President and Mid-Term Elections

June 9, 1950

Report Outline
Truman and Mid-Term Election of 1950
Presidential Intervention in 1918 and 1938
President as Party and National Leader

Truman and Mid-Term Election of 1950

President's Whistle-Stop Stumping in 1950

President Truman's “non-political” cross-country speaking trip in May and his projected campaign tour through 15 states in the fall, although not entirely without precedent, constitute unusual activity on the part of a White House occupant in a mid-term election year. Most Presidents have limited their participation in congressional elections to contests in their own states, occasional endorsements of particular candidates in other states, and one or two general speeches largely in the nature of get-out-and-vote appeals.

Wilson made a new departure in 1918 by issuing a letter to “My Fellow-Countrymen” urging election of a Democratic Congress. Roosevelt broke precedent in 1938 by intervening in the Democratic primaries in a number of states in an attempt to purge opponents of his policies in his own party. In July of the same year Roosevelt also made numerous speeches on a roundabout journey to the Pacific Coast, on his way to board a naval vessel for a vacation cruise to the Galapagos Islands. And in September 1942 he went on a secret nation-wide inspection tour of war plants which, when made known on its completion, provoked charges of playing politics in time of war.

On the other hand, no President has ever before indulged, at the height of a mid-term general election campaign, in anything quite like the “whistle-stop” stumping planned by Truman for the autumn of 1950. Whether it will have more results than the conspicuously unsuccessful intervention of Wilson in the general election of 1918, and of Roosevelt in the primaries of 1938, will be known only when the returns come in from the voting on Nov. 7.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Apr. 04, 1956  Vice Presidency
Oct. 15, 1952  Change of Presidents
Jun. 09, 1950  President and Mid-Term Elections
Oct. 20, 1948  Federal Patronage
Mar. 24, 1948  The South and the Presidency
Dec. 05, 1947  Military Leaders and the Presidency
Apr. 16, 1947  Veto Power of the President
Sep. 20, 1945  Succession to the Presidency
Sep. 12, 1940  The War Powers of the President
Feb. 11, 1938  Emergency Powers of the President
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Dec. 28, 1937  Extension of the Veto Power
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Campaigns and Elections
Powers and History of the Presidency