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| | |-+  Willkie 1940/FDR 1944 counties
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Author Topic: Willkie 1940/FDR 1944 counties  (Read 560 times)
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« on: March 05, 2017, 10:09:47 pm »

  • Martin, Indiana
  • Dubuque, Iowa
  • Howard, Iowa
  • Baraga, Michigan
  • Houghton, Michigan
  • Keweenaw, Michigan
  • Aitkin, Minnesota
  • Grant, Minnesota
  • Greeley, Nebraska
  • Cavalier, North Dakota
  • Ramsey, North Dakota
  • Slope, North Dakota
  • Towner, North Dakota
  • Traill, North Dakota
  • Cherokee, Oklahoma
  • Elk, Pennsylvania
  • Kent, Rhode Island
  • Bennett, South Dakota
  • Ziebach, South Dakota
  • Lee, Texas
  • Benton, Washington
  • Florence, Wisconsin

Given that Willkie won 697 counties from Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1940, this is a remarkably low “regain rate”, worse if I am not mistaken than John Kerry in 2004 after Bush had taken over 800 counties from Clinton in 2000. Two of the twenty-two counties voting for Willkie but not Dewey had not previously won by FDR – Keweenaw in Michigan, whose political history is exceptionally singular due to its remoteness, and Kent in Rhode Island.

Apart from Elk and Kent, all these counties lie in the upper Midwest or Great Plains, but only in Michigan and North Dakota are any adjacent.

Dubuque County, Iowa is except Kent the most populous of these counties, and before Trump in 2016 Willkie was one of only four Republicans to win the county (the others being Theodore Roosevelt in 1904, Warren Harding in 1920 and Dwight Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956) and the only one to do so outside of landslide wins. As in so much of the farm belt, Willkie’s win was due to opposition of Americans of German descent to World War II against the Germans.

Lee County, Texas is part of the “German belt” in that state, and has a rather eccentric political history – besides being in this set of 22 counties, it was carried by James Ferguson in 1920 when on the ballot in no other state, and was won by Dukakis in 1988 but Bush in 1992 (only 20 other counties share this fate). Towner County, North Dakota, though fitting in with the trend of the 1940 election, was a remarkable win by Willkie given than 1936 Republican nominee Alf Landon had come third in the county behind not only FDR but also “Union Party” nominee William Lemke. (For your information, it would be 1972 in Idaho before a third-party candidate would again manage to beat a major party candidate in any non-Southern county).
Skill and Chance
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« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2017, 12:19:27 am »

The story of 1944 seems to be FDR taking a fairly big rural hit but gaining in the Northern cities.  It's much more clear cut and easier to explain than 1940 IMO.  In terms of the counties that flipped back, the common thread seems to be heavily German rural counties that swung especially hard against FDR in 1940, and a few heavily Catholic areas of Minnesota and Iowa.  My understanding is that Michigan was one of the few states that made it relatively easy for its soldiers to vote and that the military vote favored FDR substantially  However, active duty military voting was generally discouraged at the time and outright impossible for many of those stationed abroad in several Southern states where voters had to appear in person to pay a poll tax in advance of the election.  As a result, it's likely that the 1944 electoral was substantially majority female, although we didn't have exit polls back then to prove it.  Women were generally more Republican than men back then, so this likely held down FDR's margin.
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