The presidential election of 1952 took place during the Cold War, when fears of Communism and anti-Soviet sentiments controlled the political atmosphere of the United States.
Incumbent President Harry S. Truman declined to run for reelection, leaving the competition between Democratic nominee Adlai Stevenson II and military hero Dwight D. Eisenhower. Eisenhower won the election in a landslide victory, and became the thirty-fourth President of the United States.
Truman’s decision not to run for reelection was fueled by his drop in popularity following the Korean War. Truman endorsed Governor Adlai Stevenson II of Illinois, grandson of former Vice President Adlai E. Stevenson, as Democratic nominee. However, Stevenson was not interested in the position and declined. Estes Kefauver, a senator from Tennessee was a populist candidate who gained the support of many independent voters as a potential Democratic nominee. Some leaders did not trust Kefauver because of his liberal views. At the Democratic National Convention, Stevenson was finally persuaded to run, and was nominated on the third ballot. John Sparkman was chosen to be his running mate.
Dwight D. Eisenhower had been the supreme commander of the Allied Forces, and became the first ever supreme commander of NATO. Eisenhower was already a popular leader at this point in history, and had been asked to accept nomination from both major parties in the election of 1948. He declared himself a member of the Republican Party before the election of 1952, and former presidential candidate, Thomas E. Dewey advocated for his nomination. Other frontrunners in the Republican primaries were Senator Robert Taft, Governor Harold Stassen, and Governor Earl Warren.
Taft’s supporters were conservative Republicans from the South and Midwest who disliked the government social services. Party leaders felt Taft was too conservative and decided against him. Warren was popular in his home state, California, but chose not to campaign for a national election. His supporters hoped he could become the compromise choice. The Republican National Convention was marked by dramatic speeches and discussions, ending in the selection of Eisenhower. Richard Nixon of California was picked to be his running mate-a decision which caused even more controversy when he was accused of accepting gifts from donors without publicly declaring them. The Republican Party nearly dropped him from the ticket until he gave the famous “Checkers Speech,” in which he discussed his economic background, and explained that one of these gifts was a dog named Checkers who had been given to his children. The televised speech won over many voters and saved Nixon’s reputation.
Eisenhower’s campaign worked on appealing to women for the first time in U.S. election history, and his promise to end the war in Korea pushed him to the top. Stevenson, on the other hand, was a great orator who gave educated speeches on important issues, but his speeches may have been too intellectual for his audiences.
Eisenhower won the election easily with over 55 percent of the popular vote, and 442 electoral votes. Eisenhower became the thirty-fourth President of the United States, ending twenty years of Democratic control of the White House.
|Presidential Candidate||Home State||Party||Electoral Votes||Running Mate|
|Dwight D. Eisenhower||New York||Republican||442||Richard Nixon|
|Adlai Stevenson||Illinois||Democratic||89||John Sparkman|
|Vincent Hallinan||California||Progressive||0||Charlotta Bass|
|Stuart Hamblen||Texas||Prohibition||0||Enoch A. Holtwick|
|Douglas MacArthur||Arkansas||Constitution||0||Harry F. Byrd|