Political Realignments

August 22, 1940

Report Outline
Prospective Shifts in Political Line-up
Party Splits Since the Civil War
The Democratic Party and the New Deal

Prospective Shifts in Political Line-up

Bolt of Democrats to G. O. P. Presidential Ticket

Nomination of President Roosevelt for a third term and of Secretary of Agriculture Wallace as his running-mate touched off a, quick bolt of conservative Democrats to the Republican candidates, Wendell L. Willkie and Charles L. McNary. Whether this movement will develop into a full-fledged party split or will be confined to a small group of prominent Democrats no longer influential in the party's councils is at present a matter for speculation. In any event, the President appears to welcome the shift of conservative Democrats to the Republican standard and to regard the bolts thus far announced as evidence of an impending realignment of the major parties on a liberal-conservative basis. By his insistance on the nomination of Wallace, in preference to other prospective vice presidential candidates more closely identified with the regular party organization, the President served warning that he is determined to reconstruct the Democratic party along New Deal lines.

The Democratic bolt to the Republican camp began immediately after Roosevelt's renomination, with the announcement by Senator Burke of Nebraska that he would support Willkie because “it is essential for our country to maintain the two-term limitation on the tenure of office of the President.” A bitter foe of the New Deal, Burke was defeated when he ran for renomination in the Nebraska Democratic primary in April. Many other prominent Democrats, objecting both to violation of the third-term tradition and to the economic principles of the New Deal, have subsequently declared their intention to vote the Republican ticket. Some of Willkie's Democratic supporters, notably Alfred E. Smith, John J. Raskob, James A. Reed, and Lewis W. Douglas, opposed Roosevelt's reelection and endorsed the Republican ticket in the last campaign, but many others remained loyal to their party's nominee in 1936.

Willkie has made it plain that an appeal to dissident Democrats and to independent voters will be a major feature of his campaign. At a press conference at Colorado Springs, July 29, he said: “I do not know of any reason why any Democrat who subscribed to and believed in the 1932 Democratic platform or believes in the historic principles of the Democratic party should not vote for me in preference to the President…on the basis of what he and I respectively believe and advocate.” The Republican candidate declared, August 1, that the percentage of independent voters was increasing annually, expressing a belief that in this year's election fully one-half of the voters would cross party lines. Willkie's acceptance speech, August 17, endorsed many domestic measures of the New Deal and asked the help in his campaign of every American—“Republican, Democrat, or Independent—Jew, Catholic, or Protestant—people of every color, creed and race.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Political Parties
May 26, 2023  Congressional Investigations
Jan. 06, 2023  Dark Money
Mar. 25, 2022  The Democrats' Future
Apr. 30, 2021  The GOP's Future
Oct. 13, 2017  Future of the Democratic Party
Sep. 09, 2016  Populism and Party Politics
Nov. 14, 2014  Nonprofit Groups and Partisan Politics
Oct. 24, 2014  Future of the GOP
Feb. 28, 2014  Polarization in America
Mar. 19, 2010  Tea Party Movement Updated
Mar. 20, 2009  Future of the GOP
Jun. 08, 2007  Democrats in Congress
Apr. 30, 2004  The Partisan Divide
Dec. 22, 1995  Third-Party Prospects
Jan. 11, 1985  Post-1984 Political Landscape
Nov. 09, 1984  Democratic Revival in South America
Sep. 14, 1984  Election 1984
Dec. 19, 1980  Future of the Democratic Party
Sep. 29, 1978  New Right in American Politics
Jan. 04, 1974  Future of Conservatism
May 03, 1972  The New Populism
Feb. 02, 1956  Foreign Policy in Political Campaigns
Dec. 22, 1954  Divided Government
Aug. 04, 1952  Two-Party System
Jun. 06, 1952  Party Platforms
Sep. 05, 1951  Southern Democrats and the 1952 Election
Oct. 06, 1948  Voting in 1948
Aug. 27, 1948  Republicans and Foreign Policy
Jul. 16, 1947  Third Party Movements
Aug. 22, 1940  Political Realignments
Jan. 13, 1938  The G. O. P. and the Solid South
Jul. 22, 1936  Third Party Movements in American Politics
Jul. 07, 1936  The Monopoly Issue in Party Politics
Nov. 12, 1935  Party Platforms and the 1936 Campaign
May 18, 1934  Political Trends and New Party Movements
Jan. 13, 1932  National Party Platforms, 1832–1932
May 16, 1928  Third Party Movements
Jan. 21, 1928  Major Party Platforms 1924–1928
Nov. 14, 1924  The Election and the Third Party
Sep. 05, 1924  Party Claims and Past Political Complexion of the States
Jun. 25, 1924  Third Party Platforms
Jun. 18, 1924  Thrid Parties: Past and Prospective
Campaigns and Elections
Campaigns and Elections