The Pittsburgh Press (November 3, 1942)
Test faced by administration; Democrats likely to retain full control in Congress
By Lyle C. Wilson, United Press staff writer
New York –
The nation was casting a light vote today for national, state and local offices, some of which will have an important bearing on the 1944 presidential election.
New York State reported light early voting.
The same condition was reported from Michigan, where Detroit counted only 53,000 votes cast up to 11 a.m., compared with 79,000 in 1938, the last off-year election.
Michigan provided the first precinct to report. It was Bad Axe, which went Republican by one vote. Seven ballots were cast for Judge Homer Ferguson for U.S. Senate and Harry F. Kelly for Governor, Republican candidates. The Democratic incumbents, Senator Prentiss M. Brown and Governor Murray D. Van Wagoner, got six votes apiece.
Roosevelt, Willkie vote
Reports of light voting were received from Massachusetts, Missouri, Texas and Illinois. Voting started light in Pennsylvania but began to pick up toward noon.
President Roosevelt voted in Hyde Park. He called himself a “farmer,” Mrs. Roosevelt’s absentee ballot failed to arrive.
Wendell Willkie cast his ballot in New York City.
The election is heavily weighted with presidential politics.
Scattered contests beat directly on President Roosevelt’s future control of important segments of his party.
Republicans look to today’s polling to raise new popular leaders before the public and to start the GOP on the comeback trail.
Candidates of all parties are uniformly pledged to continue the fight until the Axis is licked.
GOP likely to gain
The Democratic Party is expected to lost some Senate and House seats but to retain control of Congress. There is also scattered weakening of Democratic state bulwarks and the Republican Party is expected to add to its list of governors, notably in New York, where Democrats have been in power 20 years.
In addition to thousands of local offices, the electorate will choose 31 full-term and four short-term Senators, 432 full-term and two short-term members of the House and 32 governors. Maine elected a Governor, a Senator and three members of the House – all Republicans – Sept. 14.
Democrats safe in Senate
The newly-elected Senators and Representatives with those members of the Senate whose terms hold over beyond this year will comprise the 78th Congress which will convene the first week of January.
The Senate will remain Democratic regardless of how far the political pendulum may swing today. The existing Democratic majority is so large that the Republicans would be unable to take over in the upper house even if they won every seat for which they are given any chance at all.
Of the seats at issue today, eight are in the South where Democratic nominees are unopposed. The pulse feelers variously predict Republican gains of 2-6 seats and the GOP says it will take eight.
Wilson error avoided
In the House, the Republicans hold 165 seats, far short of the 218 required for a bare majority over all parties. The Democrats have 258 seats. There are five minor party representatives and seven vacancies.
Unless some of the minor party Representatives would join with them, the GOP would require 53 additional seats to organize the House when it meets in January and to supplant Speaker Sam Rayburn with Joseph W. Martin Jr. (R-MA), who is presently the Republican floor leader.
Republican spokesmen have generally not claimed they would win the House this year and both parties have been cautious in seeking votes to avoid the 1918 mistake of Woodrow Wilson, who called for election of members of his own party as part of the war effort.
19-35 seat gain seen
But Vice Chairman Frank E. Gannett says the Republicans will gain a minimum of 25 seats and probably do better. Some other Republicans privately express the opinion that they have 19-20 seats in the bag and good chance but no assurance of bettering that figure.
The extent of Republican gains in the House will be accepted here and abroad as a measure of American judgment of the war policies of the Roosevelt administration. But it is also a fact that the majority party in Congress usually loses seats in an off-year election.
Only once in the past 40 years has such a majority been increased, in off-year polling.
Dewey victory seen
Top billing among the states goes to the New York contest for Governor in which Republican Thomas E. Dewey, the former District Attorney, looks like a sure winner over John J. Bennett Jr., Democrat, and Dean Alfange, American Labor Party.
Mr. Dewey may come up two years from now with the presidential nomination if he wins today. His backers are claiming a plurality of around 600,000 which should be a victory sufficiently spectacular to impress the name of Dewey deeply from coast to coast.
Fish seat at stake
Highlighting the individual Congressional contests was the campaign for reelection from President Roosevelt’s home district by Rep. Hamilton Fish (R-NY), leader of pre-war isolationists.
There was also wide interest in the effort of Clare Booth Luce, author and playwright, to win the Congressional seat now held by Rep. Leroy D. Downs (D-CT). Mrs. Luce last night received an endorsement from Wendell Willkie.
In the Senate, Nebraska’s George W. Norris faces a nip-and-tuck fight to stay in Congress, where he has served 30 years.
Party’s report spending
The 81-year-old independent has received Mr. Roosevelt’s endorsement, but Republicans and Democrats both have entered candidates against him, and his defeat would be regarded as an administration reversal.
Meanwhile, the Democrats reported the spending of $503,278 and the Republicans $116,301 between Jan. 1 and Oct. 29. Receipts of the Democratic National Committee during the period were $528,580. The Republicans received $126,811.