The Religious Issue in American Politics

April 9, 1927

Report Outline
Constitutional Provisions on Religion
Religio-Political Movements in the United States
Strength of Religious Bodies in United States

In the election of 1928 one of two long-established political traditions will be broken, if current predictions are fulfilled by the nomination of Calvin Coolidge and Alfred E. Smith as the Republican and Democratic candidates for President. Either an American President will be elected to a third term, or a candidate of the Roman Catholic faith will be chosen as the next President of the United States. Precedent will be broken even by the nomination of either of these men, for no American President has ever been selected by his party as a candidate for a third consecutive term, and no Catholic candidate for the presidential nomination has ever received a majority vote in the national convention of any major party.

In the deadlocked 1924 convention of the Democratic party, Governor Smith received 368 votes 182 short of a simple majority when the peak of his strength was reached on the seventy sixth ballot. A two-thirds majority has been required in all past Democratic conventions to effect a nomination. The maximum vote for Smith in 1924 was 364 short of a two-thirds majority.

With the apparent dwindling of the McAdoo strength during recent months, however, it is now freely predicted that Governor Smith will be nominated whether the two-thirds rule stands or falls in the 1928 convention. It is suggested in some quarters that delegates who cannot openly support Governor Smith because of his wet and Catholic affiliations but will desire his nomination as the only Democrat with a chance to win the election may vote to set aside the two-thirds rule and thus permit his nomination by a simple majority.

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