Election 1944: 12 states control election (10-19-44)

The Pittsburgh Press (October 19, 1944)


Background of news –
12 states control election

By Bertram Benedict

The 12 most populous states in the union, one-fourth of the entire number, together have more than enough votes in the Electoral College to elect a President:

New York 47
Pennsylvania 35
Illinois 28
California 25
Ohio 25
Texas 23
Michigan 19
Massachusetts 16
New Jersey 16
Missouri 15
North Carolina 14
Indiana 13
Necessary to elect 266

The combined vote of these 12 states is 52 percent of the electoral vote, but the 12 have 58 percent of the population (1940 census). The discrepancy arises because the electoral system is a weighted against the larger states. The electoral vote of each state is equal to the number of its Senators and Representatives in Congress, and each state, small or large, has two Senators.

Thus in 1944, Nevada, with a population of only 110,247 in 1940, has three electoral votes. Colorado, with 10 times Nevada’s population (1,123,296), has six electoral votes, only twice as many.

All on same side only once

Although these 12 most populous states could by themselves decide a presidential election, it is highly improbable that they ever will. For one thing, two of them – North Carolina and Texas – are in the Deep South and vote Democratic even in Republican years, except when the Democratic nominee was Al Smith. Other Southern states always will go the same way as North Carolina and Texas.

In fact, since the turn of the century, these 12 most populous states were all in the same column in only one presidential election – that of 1936, when 46 of the 48 states voted for President Roosevelt, and some wag called it more of a census than an election. In 1916, Woodrow Wilson was reelected although he carried only five of these 12 states.

Missouri, North Carolina and Texas were on the losing side in the election of 1900, North Carolina and Texas in the elections of 1904, 1908, 1920 and 1924.

In 1912, when the third-party candidacy of Theodore Roosevelt resulted in a landslide for Woodrow Wilson, California (11 of its 13 votes), Michigan and Pennsylvania voted for Roosevelt.

In 1916, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania voted for Hughes.

In 1928, Massachusetts was for Smith. In 1932, Pennsylvania stuck by Hoover. In 1940, Indiana and Michigan were among the 10 states for Willkie.

Of the dozen states with the largest electoral votes, Ohio has gone the same way as the country as a whole in every presidential election since 1892, Missouri in every one since 1900.

10 sure Democratic states

In presidential elections, the Democratic Party has the advantage of being able to count upon all the 10 states in the Deep South (omitting Kentucky, Oklahoma and Tennessee). In 1944, these 10 have a total of 113 electoral votes, more than 40 percent of the number necessary to elect. In recent elections, the Republicans had no bloc of states on which they could similarly rely without fail. Now, however, political reports indicate that the GOP may be able to rely for some time to come upon a bloc of seven states in the Midwest – Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin with a total of 55 electoral votes.