Election 1944: 11 states hold election key with only four weeks to go (10-10-44)

The Pittsburgh Press (October 10, 1944)


11 states hold election key with only four weeks to go

Roosevelt can win if he holds own in areas of close vote in 1940
By Lyle C. Wilson, United Press staff writer

Washington –
Four weeks remain today of the election campaign in which the voters will decide whether President Roosevelt shall have a fourth term or be supplanted by Governor Thomas E. Dewey, Republican presidential candidate.

The campaign is primarily a contest for 11 big states where the vote last time was close and of which Mr. Roosevelt carried nine in 1940 and the late Wendell L. Willkie, Republican nominee, carried two.

If Governor Dewey holds the two Mr. Willkie carried four years ago and reverses the trend in the others, his chances of election will be excellent. If Mr. Roosevelt can hold his own in most of these states, he probably will be reelected.

The key states are Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Mr. Willkie carried Indiana and Michigan.

But the count was close in all of those states. their aggregate of electoral votes is 237. Only 266 electoral votes are required to win.

In 1940, these states cast 15,613,807 votes for Mr. Roosevelt and 13,522,386 for Mr. Willkie. The nation as a whole cast 27,243,466 votes for Mr. Roosevelt and 22,304,755 for Mr. Willkie. Discounting the South where Republicans get hardly more than token support, the President had a 1940 margin of around four million votes.

Total vote a factor

Of that nationwide edge, the 11 pivotal states accounted for just over two million votes of the margin by which the President was returned to office. A slight shift in some of these states would move them from the Democratic column to the Republican. And a factor to be remembered is that, whereas nearly 50 million votes were cast in the 1940 election, estimates of the probable total this year range from 40 million up.

A reduced vote would be attributed to apathy, failure of servicemen to vote in large numbers and – the bugaboo that keeps Democratic managers awake at night – the failure of hundreds of thousands of war workers to register and to vote in their new election districts.

Political Action campaign

There has been an enormous migration of workers. That is why the CIO Political Action Committee undertook a doorbell-ringing campaign to persuade the workers to register. Those votes are regarded as more favorable to Mr. Roosevelt than to Governor Dewey, by a considerable margin. But they must be cast to be counted.

Although the President’s 1940 aggregate margin was large, there were some narrow margins among the states both for Mr. Roosevelt and for Mr. Willkie. Take the 11 pivotal states and the record of their 1940 returns:

Illinois 2,149,000 2,047,000
Indiana 874,000 899,000
Massachusetts 1,076,000 939,000
Michigan 1,032,000 1,039,000
Minnesota 644,000 596,000
Missouri 958,000 871,000
New Jersey 1,016,000 945,000
New York* 3,251,000 3,027,000
Ohio 1,733,000 1,586,000
Pennsylvania 2,171,000 1,889,000
Wisconsin 704,000 679,000

*In 1940, the Democrats polled fewer votes there than the Republicans, but that Mr. Roosevelt won New York’s 47 electoral votes because of the 417,000 popular votes cast for him as the candidate of the American Labor Party.

Starting from scratch a few years ago, the ALP has become the balance-of-power party in New York.