United States presidential election in Florida, 1948

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United States presidential election in Florida, 1948
Florida
← 1944 November 2, 1948 1952 →
Turnout Increase 33.5%
  Harry S. Truman.jpg ThomasDewey.png StromThurmond.png
Nominee Harry Truman Thomas Dewey Storm Thurmond
Party Democratic Republican Dixiecrat
Home state Missouri New York South Carolina
Running mate Alben Barkley Earl Warren Fielding Wright
Electoral vote 8 0 0
Popular vote 281,988 194,280 89,755
Percentage 48.82% 33.63% 15.54%

President before election

Harry Truman
Democratic

Elected President

Harry Truman
Democratic

The 1948 United States presidential election in Florida was held on November 2, 1948. Voters chose eight electors, or representatives to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice President.

Background

Excepting the 1928 election when fierce anti-Catholicism and Prohibitionism caused Herbert Hoover to defeat the wet Catholic Al Smith,[1] Florida since the end of Reconstruction had been a classic Southern one-party state dominated by the Democratic Party. Disfranchisement of African-Americans and many poor whites had virtually eliminated the Republican Party – only nine Republicans had ever been elected to the state legislature since 1890 – and Democratic primaries were the sole competitive elections.

Under the influence of Senator Claude Pepper, Florida had abolished the poll tax in 1937, leading to steady increases in voter turnout during the following several elections;[2] however, there was no marked increase in African-American voting and Democratic hegemony remained unchallenged: FDR did not lose a single county in the state during his four elections.[3]

Dixiecrat revolt

However, on February 2, 1948, incumbent President Harry S. Truman, fearing that the antidemocratic practices and racial discrimination of the South would severely denigrate the United States’ reputation in the Cold War,[4] launched the first Civil Rights bill since the end of Reconstruction, along with an executive order for desegregation of the military. Mississippi Governor Fielding Wright had already sounded a call for revolt, which he took to the Southern Governors Conference at Wakulla Springs[5] to say that calls for Civil Rights legislation by national Democrats would not be tolerated in Dixie.

After Truman was renominated at the 1948 Democratic National Convention, Southern Democrats walked out and convened at Birmingham, Alabama on July 17, nominating South Carolina Governor James Strom Thurmond for President and Mississippi Governor Fielding L. Wright for Vice-President.[6]

To bolt or not to bolt

Largely because it had a smaller proportion of Negroes in its population than Mississippi, South Carolina or Louisiana, Florida was less deeply involved in the bolt from the national Democratic Party.[7] Frank D. Upchurch, a long-time adversary of Senator Pepper, had recommended that the renomination of Truman be fought, whilst the more liberal Pepper argued that unless Dwight Eisenhower replaced Truman as the nominee, the Democrats had no chance of winning.[8] In the primary campaign for electors, bolters won eleven and a half votes out of twenty and control of the state’s delegation.

When Florida‘s Democrats designated their Presidential electors, four were pledged against Truman and four to vote for him,[7] although only names of electors were listed[9] However, after the “States’ Rights” convention in July, Miami Herald publisher Reuben Clein filed a civil suite to disqualify the four original electors who planned to vote for Thurmond,[8][10] Senator Pepper reversed his earlier pledge to not support Truman, and a special session of the state legislature provided separate lists for all candidates,[8] including the far-left former Vice-President Henry Wallace.

Pepper campaigned on Dewey’s alleged support of big business over the “little man”,[11] and Truman made a whistle-stop tour of the state in mid-October.[12]

Vote

Harry Truman won by 87,708 votes or 15.19 percentage points against Republican opponent Thomas E. Dewey. In the socially conservative Panhandle, Truman was able to rely on having a strong economic program – which Thurmond entirely lacked – to hold off Thurmond’s racial appeal.[13] In more liberal South Florida – which had seen extensive settlement by Northerners since the war – his economic policies were a winner against Henry Wallace, who received only two percent of the state’s vote but did an order of magnitude better in some Tampa precincts.[14]

Dewey nonetheless made dramatic gains upon previous Republican efforts in Florida. By carrying eleven counties, mostly in the southwest and on the east coast, he was only the fifth Republican to carry any Florida county at Presidential level since the poll tax’ original implementation following the 1888 election.[3][a] The Dewey counties had in earlier Democratic primaries typically backed “conservative” candidates favouring limited or no economic regulation,[13] due to their lack of dependence on the traditionally “Southern” crops of cotton and tobacco,and would become the most consistently conservative and Republican counties in future Presidential elections.

Strom Thurmond, who had had to run as a third-party candidate under the “States’ Rights” banner, nonetheless won over fifteen percent of the vote. Thurmond carried three counties, but ran second in thirty-one others.

Electoral eccentricities

This is the last time as of 2017 that Florida was won by a Democratic presidential candidate by double digits, not even Lyndon B. Johnson in his 1964 landslide election and even Jimmy Carter in 1976 managed to win the state by double digits, despite both men being Southern Democrats. Republicans have won Florida by double digits in the following elections:

  • 1952 and 1956 when Dwight D. Eisenhower won the state by margins of 10.02 and 14.54 percentage points
  • the 1972 election when Richard Nixon carried the state by a staggering margin 44.1 percentage points and carried every single county making this the best showing by a Republican in the sunshine state ever.
  • the 1980 and 1984 elections when Ronald Reagan won the state by margins of 17 and 30.6 percentage points respectively
  • the 1988 election, when George Bush senior won the Sunshine State by a margin of 22.4 percentage points

This election is also the last time Seminole County and Highlands County have ever voted for a Democratic Presidential candidate.[15] Osceola County, which Truman won by two votes, would not vote Democratic again until 1996.[3]

Results

United States presidential election in Florida, 1948[16]
Party Candidate Votes Percentage Electoral votes
Democratic Harry S. Truman 281,988 48.82% 8
Republican Thomas E. Dewey 194,280 33.63% 0
States’ Rights J. Strom Thurmond 89,755 15.54% 0
Progressive Henry A. Wallace 11,620 2.01% 0
Total 577,643 100.00% 8
Voter turnout (Voting age) 33.5%[17]

Results by county

County Truman#[18] Truman% Dewey#[18] Dewey% Thurmond#[19] Thurmond% Wallace#[20] Wallace% Total votes cast
Alachua 3,745 36.78% 2,403 23.60% 3,937 38.67% 97 0.95% 10,182
Baker 849 72.19% 112 9.52% 213 18.11% 2 0.17% 1,176
Bay 5,168 70.68% 928 12.69% 1,193 16.32% 23 0.31% 7,312
Bradford 1,228 56.07% 357 16.30% 593 27.08% 12 0.55% 2,190
Brevard 2,348 42.20% 2,315 41.61% 857 15.40% 44 0.79% 5,564
Broward 7,096 36.35% 9,933 50.88% 2,300 11.78% 192 0.98% 19,521
Calhoun 1,404 78.26% 128 7.13% 258 14.38% 4 0.22% 1,794
Charlotte 520 41.01% 559 44.09% 172 13.56% 17 1.34% 1,268
Citrus 940 56.90% 461 27.91% 244 14.77% 7 0.42% 1,652
Clay 1,544 56.31% 722 26.33% 457 16.67% 19 0.69% 2,742
Collier 362 41.14% 247 28.07% 251 28.52% 20 2.27% 880
Columbia 1,797 53.93% 553 16.60% 978 29.35% 4 0.12% 3,332
Dade 59,681 53.52% 41,301 37.04% 7,136 6.40% 3,394 3.04% 111,512
De Soto 1,157 55.57% 569 27.33% 350 16.81% 6 0.29% 2,082
Dixie 862 67.82% 111 8.73% 295 23.21% 3 0.24% 1,271
Duval 28,567 47.85% 15,379 25.76% 14,428 24.17% 1,321 2.21% 59,695
Escambia 13,982 63.11% 3,267 14.75% 4,790 21.62% 117 0.53% 22,156
Flagler 153 23.61% 154 23.77% 330 50.93% 11 1.70% 648
Franklin 635 59.79% 130 12.24% 294 27.68% 3 0.28% 1,062
Gadsden 1,427 50.93% 376 13.42% 992 35.40% 7 0.25% 2,802
Gilchrist 884 83.32% 46 4.34% 131 12.35% 0 0.00% 1,061
Glades 274 49.37% 150 27.03% 127 22.88% 4 0.72% 555
Gulf 1,219 77.20% 146 9.25% 209 13.24% 5 0.32% 1,579
Hamilton 1,071 66.44% 202 12.53% 337 20.91% 2 0.12% 1,612
Hardee 1,871 65.49% 689 24.12% 281 9.84% 16 0.56% 2,857
Hendry 699 53.89% 340 26.21% 241 18.58% 17 1.31% 1,297
Hernando 825 49.34% 441 26.38% 372 22.25% 34 2.03% 1,672
Highlands 2,257 52.98% 1,471 34.53% 498 11.69% 34 0.80% 4,260
Hillsborough 18,854 45.67% 13,529 32.77% 5,094 12.34% 3,809 9.23% 41,286
Holmes 1,799 56.29% 492 15.39% 902 28.22% 3 0.09% 3,196
Indian River 1,055 43.10% 1,134 46.32% 246 10.05% 13 0.53% 2,448
Jackson 3,169 55.11% 648 11.27% 1,917 33.34% 16 0.28% 5,750
Jefferson 700 52.91% 153 11.56% 467 35.30% 3 0.23% 1,323
Lafayette 975 85.15% 52 4.54% 117 10.22% 1 0.09% 1,145
Lake 3,474 41.96% 3,579 43.23% 1,180 14.25% 46 0.56% 8,279
Lee 1,883 32.48% 2,276 39.26% 1,600 27.60% 38 0.66% 5,797
Leon 3,607 58.55% 1,149 18.65% 1,350 21.91% 55 0.89% 6,161
Levy 1,128 55.76% 225 11.12% 662 32.72% 8 0.40% 2,023
Liberty 737 86.81% 30 3.53% 81 9.54% 1 0.12% 849
Madison 1,189 51.70% 207 9.00% 898 39.04% 6 0.26% 2,300
Manatee 2,766 36.35% 3,371 44.30% 1,431 18.80% 42 0.55% 7,610
Marion 4,650 57.01% 1,829 22.43% 1,640 20.11% 37 0.45% 8,156
Martin 815 38.55% 948 44.84% 323 15.28% 28 1.32% 2,114
Monroe 3,759 83.48% 548 12.17% 122 2.71% 74 1.64% 4,503
Nassau 1,518 55.10% 540 19.60% 681 24.72% 16 0.58% 2,755
Okaloosa 2,519 62.86% 486 12.13% 992 24.76% 10 0.25% 4,007
Okeechobee 784 74.81% 179 17.08% 84 8.02% 1 0.10% 1,048
Orange 10,063 39.23% 11,971 46.67% 3,374 13.15% 244 0.95% 25,652
Osceola 1,577 44.65% 1,575 44.59% 357 10.11% 23 0.65% 3,532
Palm Beach 9,408 39.01% 10,996 45.60% 3,226 13.38% 485 2.01% 24,115
Pasco 2,375 48.66% 1,839 37.68% 628 12.87% 39 0.80% 4,881
Pinellas 15,724 35.32% 24,900 55.92% 3,400 7.64% 500 1.12% 44,524
Polk 12,034 52.57% 7,692 33.60% 2,992 13.07% 174 0.76% 22,892
Putnam 1,947 40.27% 1,435 29.68% 1,431 29.60% 22 0.46% 4,835
St. Johns 1,994 31.63% 1,840 29.18% 2,438 38.67% 33 0.52% 6,305
St. Lucie 1,704 38.38% 1,689 38.04% 1,027 23.13% 20 0.45% 4,440
Santa Rosa 2,316 65.72% 549 15.58% 639 18.13% 20 0.57% 3,524
Sarasota 2,302 32.31% 3,559 49.95% 1,213 17.02% 51 0.72% 7,125
Seminole 2,261 45.16% 1,665 33.25% 1,060 21.17% 21 0.42% 5,007
Sumter 1,411 65.57% 251 11.66% 486 22.58% 4 0.19% 2,152
Suwannee 3,033 71.62% 398 9.40% 786 18.56% 18 0.43% 4,235
Taylor 1,354 67.73% 216 10.81% 422 21.11% 7 0.35% 1,999
Union 594 67.96% 55 6.29% 225 25.74% 0 0.00% 874
Volusia 9,202 46.76% 7,764 39.46% 2,411 12.25% 301 1.53% 19,678
Wakulla 997 72.30% 72 5.22% 305 22.12% 5 0.36% 1,379
Walton 2,366 62.28% 652 17.16% 761 20.03% 20 0.53% 3,799
Washington 1,380 62.42% 297 13.43% 523 23.65% 11 0.50% 2,211
Totals[21][b] 281,988 48.82% 194,280 33.63% 89,755 15.54% 11,620 2.01% 577,643

References

  1. ^ Doherty, Herbert J. (junior); ‘Florida and the Presidential Election of 1928’; The Florida Historical Quarterly, vol. 26, no. 2 (October 1947), pp. 174-186
  2. ^ Poll Taxes: Hearings Before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on S. 1280, Seventy-Seventh Congress, Second Session, Parts 1-2, p. 289
  3. ^ a b c Menendez, Albert J.; The Geography of Presidential Elections in the United States, 1868-2004, p. 164-165 ISBN 0786422173
  4. ^ Frederickson, Kari A.; The Dixiecrat Revolt and the End of the Solid South, p. 76 ISBN 0807849103
  5. ^ Key, Valdimer Orlando; Southern Politics in State and Nation, p. 330 Alfred A. Knopf (1949)
  6. ^ Key; Southern Politics, p. 335
  7. ^ a b Key; Southern Politics, pp. 337-338
  8. ^ a b c Pleasant, Julian M.; ‘Claude Pepper, Strom Thurmond, and the 1948 Presidential Election in Florida’; The Florida Historical Quarterly, vol. 76, no. 4 (Spring, 1998), pp. 439-473
  9. ^ ‘Floridians to Find It Hard to Vote Dixiecrat Ticket’; The Evening Independent, July 17, 1948, p. 1
  10. ^ Gainesville Sun, September 5, 1948; Tallahassee Daily Democrat, September 8, 1948
  11. ^ ‘Pepper Charges Dewey Favours Big Business’; St. Petersburg Times, September 3, 1948, p. 1
  12. ^ Goldzwig, Steven R.; Truman’s Whistle-stop Campaign, p. 89 ISBN 1603440062
  13. ^ a b Doherty, Herbert J. (junior); ‘Liberal and Conservative Politics in Florida’; The Journal of Politics, nol. 14, no. 3 (August 1952), pp. 403-417
  14. ^ Menendez; The Geography of Presidential Elections in the United States, p. 75
  15. ^ Sullivan, Robert David; ‘How the Red and Blue Map Evolved Over the Past Century’; America Magazine in The National Catholic Review; June 29, 2016
  16. ^ "1948 Presidential General Election Results – Florida". 
  17. ^ Gans, Curtis and Mulling, Matthew; Voter Turnout in the United States, 1788-2009, p. 481 ISBN 9781604265958
  18. ^ a b Géoelections; 1948 Presidential Election Popular Vote (xlsx file for €15)
  19. ^ Géoelections; Popular Vote for Strom Thurmond (xlsx file for €15)
  20. ^ Géoelections; Popular Vote for Henry Wallace (xlsx file for €15)
  21. ^ Florida Department of State, Division of Elections, (compiler); Official Vote – State of Florida General Election – 1948 Tabulated by Counties (Tallahassee, 1948)

Notes

  1. ^ William Howard Taft carried Calhoun County in 1908; Warren G. Harding in 1920 and Calvin Coolidge in 1924 each carried three counties in South Florida, and Herbert Hoover in 1928 carried the state and 41 of 67 counties.
  2. ^ These totals are the highest elector for each slate. Adding the county tables, which are averages for the electors on each slate, will produce a slightly smaller number.
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