Election 1940: Campaign Roars to Close in Bitterness and Doubt (11-3-40)

The Pittsburgh Press (November 3, 1940)


By Lyle C. Wilson, United Press Staff Writer

New York, Nov. 2 –

President Roosevelt and Wendell L. Willkie, spokesmen of the contending forces in this bitter presidential contest, sent their final major campaign challenges echoing tonight over the great Middle Eastern political battleground.

The campaign is almost over. Polls open Tuesday morning and before midnight the trend may be evident – not pre-election polls this time but the considered ballot of the electorate, coast-to-coast, Gulf-to-Canada.

There have been few presidential campaigns more bitter than this one in which each side assigns to the other dictatorial or totalitarian aspirations and in which the Axis powers are alleged to have an interest so acute that they are exerting pressure against one candidate and for another.

Both Mr. Roosevelt and Willkie will speak tomorrow, but comparatively briefly in the traditional final salute to the voting public.

In addition to a President and Vice President, the voters will elect 356 United States Senators, 35 governors and 531 members of the House of Representatives. Political rallies hold fairly firm in the Congressional, gubernatorial and thousands of local contests that will be decided Tuesday.

But the presidential election has smashed political fences like kindling. Brain trusters who were part of the first New Deal; army are blazing a barrage tonight from the opposition camp.

President John L. Lewis of the Congress of Industrial Organizations bolted the Roosevelt-Wallace ticket to support Mr. Willkie and former Postmaster General James A. Farley is sitting on the sidelines while Vice President John N. Garner has left the field altogether. His position is being played by Henry A. Wallace, who was Mr. Roosevelt’s Secretary of Agriculture until the vice presidential nomination was dropped in his lap last July in Chicago.

Republicans nominated Mr. Willkie, a former Democrat, to lead them, and Mfr. Wallace, the Mop. 2 man on the Democratic ticket is a former Republican. But the Democratic leadership of the solid South remains substantially loyal to the President

The verdict of election day, itself, must be awaited before it can be determined whether the various bolts from the right and left of the New Deal Democratic Party as constituted in 1932-36 are symptomatic of a real desertion or merely signify the departure of a few spectacular political and intellectual brigadier generals who actually command no troops.

In any event, the forecast is for a close popular vote decision with the great Mid-Atlantic states and those directly west of them determining the issue. The battleground lies there. The President and Mr. Willkie recognized that fact in choosing Cleveland and New York for their final campaign appeals.

Solid South Still Solid

Poll and survey reports reflect a close contest in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Illinois and the man who lines those states up will win. After two terms as governor and two as President in which he rolled up tremendous New York pluralities, Mr. Roosevelt is battling for his home state this time if polls and his own campaign strategy are accurate indices. And that contest extends westward through the Great Lakes areas where the election will be won or lost.

The Solid South apparently remains solid. Mr. Roosevelt has an edge in the border and silver states and by most polls and surveys is given the bulge on the West Coast. Mr. Willkie’s chances depend on a clean sweep of the great industrial states, all or most of New England and a much better than even break in the Upper Mississippi agricultural states. Political observers believe, for instance, that Mr. Willkie cannot be elected without New York State but that Mr. Roosevelt could lose New York and still win.

And Mr. Farley, the campaign strategist of 1932-36 who took a walk this year but who still will vote the Democratic ticket straight, believes the popular vote margin between victory and defeat will be less than a million votes.

The American Civil Liberties Union is protesting the disappearance of minor parties from many state ballots. The Union reported that the Communists had been barred in 15 states, Socialists in 11 and Social-Laborites in 5.

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