Sabato's Crystal Ball

1956 Presidential Election

UVA Center for Politics January 1st, 2008

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President Eisenhower was immediately renominated for president despite health concerns and his age of 66, he was the strong favorite of the Republicans and held a good standing with the public due to a booming economy. The choice of running with Nixon again was somewhat controversial, but his confidence in the vice president held strong.

In the Democratic primary, Kefauver challenged Adlai Stevenson, the nominee from 1952. Kefauver won sizeable victories in New Hampshire and Minnesota, but Stevenson battled back with a long list of primary wins in larger states like California and Florida. With the additional endorsement of Eleanor Roosevelt, Stevenson won the Democratic nomination for the second time in a row. Kefauver eventually became Stevenson’s running mate.

The election of 1956 failed to have any substantial debates or real issues of concern. Eisenhower had an expanding economy to back him up, a war brought quickly to the end, and with highways and increased housing, he had almost created the “middle-class dream.” The vice president handled attacking the opposition, jesting that he was complacent and even communist. James David Barber calls this kind of campaign “the politics of conciliation,” with little conflict or desire for change.

Eisenhower decisively won the Electoral College and popular vote. Victorious in 42 states, he gained 457 electoral votes to Stevenson’s 73.