Southern Democrats and the 1952 Election

September 5, 1951

Report Outline
North-South Schism in Democratic Party
Moves to Promote a Party Realignment
Southern Demands on Democratic Party

North-South Schism in Democratic Party

Truman, Eisenhower, and Invasion of Solid South

If Truman and Eisenhower become rival contenders for the presidency next year, there is a strong chance that the Republican party will repeat its feat of 24 years earlier and split the Democratic Solid South. Republican capture of the electoral votes of four southern states in 1928 resulted not so much from the drawing power of Herbert Hoover as from the South's adverse reaction to the candidacy of Alfred E. Smith. With a Truman-Eisenhower lineup in 1952, positive as well as negative forces would be operating to produce a split—on the one hand the popular appeal of Gen. Eisenhower; on the other hand southern opposition to the President's Fair Deal program in general and to his civil rights proposals in particular.

Although the same combination of factors will not be present if other men head the major party tickets, any Republican nominee may profit from the adverse factors if Truman runs again. The South's attitude toward the White House has been conspicuously demonstrated by the frequency with which southern members of Congress have voted with the Republicans in opposition to the administration. The southern Democratic-Republican coalition has been more powerful in the 82nd Congress than at any time since it began to take shape about 15 years ago; in fact, it is now the effective majority in the national legislature.

As a result, there have been suggestions from Republican sources that the coalition be formalized through a political realignment calculated by its proponents to bring about a Republican victory in 1952. Southern Democrats themselves have shown little enthusiasm for that proposal, but some of their leading spokesmen have left no doubt of their determination to fight in next year's convention to win recognition of southern views and curb the influence of the forces that have been dominant in the Democratic party for the last 20 years.

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