Mid-Term Election

September 23, 1954

Report Outline
Crucial Nature of the 1954 Election
Eisenhower and the Mid-Term Campaign
Campaign Issues and Party Strategy
Special Focus

Crucial Nature of the 1954 Election

Neck-And-Neck Race for Control of 84Th Congress

Because the party in power almost invariably loses strength in the mid-term congressional election, and because the Republicans have had only slender majorities in the House and Senate of the 83rd Congress, the coming Nov. 2 contest at the polls carries the distinct possibility of throwing control of the 84th Congress to the Democrats. When Maine's voters, balloting in that state's early election on Sept. 13, returned a Democratic governor for the first time in 20 years and substantially reduced the pluralities of Maine's normally Republican congressional delegation, reports of a nation-wide Democratic trend gained fresh attention.

Vice President Nixon has described the November election as “a horse race … it could go either way.” Realization that the contest was likely to be close, coupled with a desire to omit no effort that could help to assure enactment of the administration program, undoubtedly influenced President Eisenhower to change his mind and participate actively in the autumn campaign. In doing so he was disregarding the failures or disappointments that attended the efforts of the few previous Presidents who ventured to intervene in mid-term congressional contests. However, similar political actions do not always produce the same reactions. If counting the ballots confounds current Democratic hopes by confirming or widening the G.O.P.'s present slim margin of power in Congress, Republicans will be entitled to attribute to the President a large share of the credit for the outcome.

The stakes are uncommonly high for a non-presidential election. Not only completion of the Eisenhower middle-of-the-road program, but also the prospects for continuation of Republican control of the government after 1956 are in the balance. For the outcome of the November voting should help to make clear whether the sweeping G.O.P. victory of 1952 represented an enduring shift of political sentiment in the country, or whether the Republicans won two years ago only because they had a presidential candidate whose appeal crossed party lines and attracted the mass of independent voters as well. G.O.P. strategy in the present race is to attempt to draw the entire pro-Eisenhower 1952 vote into a permanent attachment to the Republican party.

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Campaigns and Elections