Republican Candidates for the Presidency, 1940

April 8, 1940

Report Outline
Dewey-Vandenberg Primary Contests
Thomas E. Dewey's Bid for the Nomination
Senator Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan
Candidacy of Senator Taft of Ohio
Republican Compromise Candidates

Dewey-Vandenberg Primary Contests

Capture by Thomas E, Dewey, in the April 2 primary, of all of Wisconsin's 24 delegates to the Republican national convention boomed the New Yorker's candidacy for the presidency and had a dampening effect on Senator Van-denberg's prospects of obtaining the nomination. Postmaster General Farley, who enjoys a reputation for accuracy in political prophecy, predicted, March 28, that if Dewey won the Wisconsin primary, he would be nominated at Philadelphia. Other political observers had held, before the primary, that consideration of Vandenberg as a candidate capable of attracting strong support in the pivotal western farm states would depend, to a large extent, on the outcome of the contest in Wisconsin. The results of the Nebraska primary, where Dewey and Vandenberg meet again, April 9, will be watched for further indications of the extent of Dewey's strength in the Middle West. Meanwhile, Senator Taft, who has entered only the Ohio primary, where he will be unopposed, May 14, has been concentrating on winning support in states which will send uninstructed delegations to the convention. He said after the Wisconsin primary that he thought he would have more delegates on the first ballot than any other candidate.

Results of Polls on Republican Candidates

Dewey's victory in Wisconsin was in line with popular sentiment toward his candidacy as indicated by the Gallup polls. However, while still leading the list of Republican candidates by a wide margin, Dewey's strength in those polls had been declining before the Wisconsin primary. In January, for example, 60 per cent of the Republican voters participating in a national Gallup poll expressed a preference for Dewey, but the proportion for the New Yorker dropped to 56 per cent in February and to 53 per cent in March. During the same months the proportion for Vandenberg rose from 16 to 17 and then to 19 per cent. Taft's share rose from 11 per cent in January to 17 per cent in February and remained at the same figure in March. The next on the list in March was Hoover, with 5 per cent, followed by Gannett and James, with 1 per cent each. A poll of the delegates to the 1936 Republican convention, taken by the Columbia Survey of Washington, D. C, and reported in the March 26, 1940, issue of Look, showed that 42 per cent of those participating favored Dewey, 32 per cent favored Vandenberg, and 19 per cent were for Taft.

While Hoover's name is occasionally mentioned as that of a possible compromise nominee in the event of a convention deadlock among the leading candidates, it is generally agreed that there is slight prospect of the nomination of either the former President or Alfred M. Landon, the 1936 nominee. The Republican party has never nominated for the presidency a second time a candidate once defeated at the polls. There is little likelihood that it would reverse this custom in favor of one so badly defeated as was Hoover in 1932 or Landon in 1936.

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