United States presidential election, 1928: Wikis


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1924 United States 1932
United States presidential election, 1928
November 6, 1928
HerbertHoover.jpg AlfredSmith.png
Nominee Herbert Hoover Al Smith
Party Republican Democratic
Home state California New York
Running mate Charles Curtis Joseph Taylor Robinson
Electoral vote 444 87
States carried 40 8
Popular vote 21,427,123 15,015,464
Percentage 58.2% 40.8%
Presidential election results map. Red denotes states won by Hoover/Curtis, Blue denotes those won by Smith/Robinson. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state.

Previous President
Calvin Coolidge

Herbert Hoover

The United States presidential election of 1928 pitted Republican Herbert Hoover against Democrat Al Smith. The Republicans were identified with the booming economy of the 1920s, whereas Smith, a Roman Catholic, suffered politically from anti-Catholic prejudice, his anti-prohibitionist stance, and the legacy of corruption of Tammany Hall with which he was associated. Hoover won a landslide victory.




Republican Party nomination

Republican candidates:

Candidates gallery

With President Coolidge choosing not to enter the race, the race for the nomination was wide open. The leading candidates were Secretary of Commerce Herbert C. Hoover, former Illinois Governor Frank O. Lowden and Senate Majority Leader Charles Curtis. A draft-Coolidge movement failed to gain traction with party insiders, and failed to persuade Coolidge himself.[1][2]

In the few primaries that mattered Hoover didn't do as well as expected, and it was thought that the President or Vice President Charles Dawes might accept a draft in case of a deadlock, but Lowden withdrew just as the convention was about to start, paving the way for a Hoover victory.[3]

The Republican Convention, held in Kansas City, Missouri from June 12 to June 15, nominated Hoover on the first ballot. With Hoover disinclined to interfere in the selection of his running mate, the party leaders were at first partial to giving Dawes a shot at a second term, but when this information leaked, Coolidge sent an angry telegram saying that he would consider a second nomination for Dawes, whom he hated, a "personal affront."[4] To attract votes from farmers concerned about Hoover's pro-business orientation, it was instead offered to Senator Curtis, who accepted. He was nominated overwhelmingly on the first ballot.[5]

In his acceptance speech a week after the convention ended, Secretary Hoover said: "We in America today are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever before in the history of this land... We shall soon with the help of God be in sight of the day when poverty will be banished from this land."[6]

The Balloting[7][8]
Presidential Ballot Vice Presidential Ballot
Herbert Hoover 837 Charles Curtis 1,052
Frank O. Lowden 74 Herman L. Ekern 19
Charles Curtis 64 Charles G. Dawes 13
James E. Watson 45 Hanford MacNider 2
George W. Norris 24
Guy D. Goff 18
Calvin Coolidge 17
Charles G. Dawes 4
Charles E. Hughes 1

Democratic Party nomination

Democratic candidates:

Candidates gallery

With the memory of the Teapot Dome scandal rapidly fading, and the current state of prosperity making that year's Presidential nomination not worth all that much, most of the major Democratic leaders such as William G. McAdoo were content to sit this one out.[citation needed] One who didn't was New York Governor Alfred E. Smith, who had tried twice before.[9]

The 1928 Democratic National Convention was held in Houston, Texas, June 26 to June 28 and Smith became the candidate on the first ballot.

The leadership asked the delegates to nominate Sen. Joseph T. Robinson of Arkansas, who was in many ways Smith's political polar opposite, to be his running mate, and he was nominated for Vice-President.[10][11]

Smith was the first Roman Catholic to gain a major party's nomination for President, and his religion became an issue during the campaign. Many Protestants feared that Smith would take orders from church leaders in Rome in making decisions affecting the country.[12][13]

The Balloting
Presidential Ballot Vice Presidential Ballot
Alfred E. Smith 849.17 Joseph T. Robinson 1,035.17
Cordell Hull 71.84 Alben W. Barkley 77
Walter F. George 52.5 Nellie T. Ross 31
James A. Reed 52 Henry T. Allen 28
Atlee Pomerene 47 George L. Berry 17.5
Jesse H. Jones 43 Dan J. Moody 9.33
Evans Woollen 32 Duncan U. Fletcher 7
Byron P. Harrison 20 John H. Taylor 6
William A. Ayres 20 Lewis G. Stevenson 4
Richard C. Watts 18 Evans Woollen 2
Gilbert M. Hitchcock 16 Joseph P. Tumulty 1
A. Victor Donahey 5
Houston Thompson 2
Theodore G. Bilbo 1

Prohibition Party nomination

The Prohibition Convention was held in Chicago from July 10 through July 12. Smith openly opposed Prohibition.[14] Some members of the Prohibition Party wanted to throw their support to Hoover, thinking that their candidate would not win and that they didn't want their candidate to provide the margin by which Smith would win.[citation needed] Nonetheless, William F. Varney was nominated for President over Hoover by a margin of 68–45.


Election results by county.     Herbert Hoover      Al Smith

The election was held on November 6, 1928.

Republican candidate Herbert Hoover won election by a wide margin on pledges to continue the economic boom of the Coolidge years. Smith won the electoral votes only of the traditionally Democratic Southern United States and two New England States. Hoover even triumphed in Smith's home state of New York by a narrow margin.

Smith's Catholicism and perceived anti-Prohibitionism as well as association with Tammany Hall hurt him in the South, where several states were won by the Republicans for the first time since Reconstruction. However, in southern states with sizable African American populations (and where the vast majority of African Americans could not vote at the time), perception took hold of Hoover as being for integration or at least not committed to maintaining segregation, which in turn overcame all of these things. During the race, Mississippi Governor Theodore Bilbo claimed that Hoover had met with a black member of the Republican National Committee and danced with her.[15] But Smith's religion helped him with New England immigrants, which may explain his narrow victories in traditionally Republican Massachusetts and Rhode Island, as well as his narrow loss in New York (which previous Democratic presidential candidates lost by double digits, but which Smith only lost by 2%).[16]

This was the first time Texas ever voted Republican.

Presidential candidate Party Home state Popular vote Electoral
Running mate Running mate's
home state
Running mate's
electoral vote
Count Pct
Herbert Hoover Republican California 21,427,123 58.2% 444 Charles Curtis Kansas 444
Alfred E. Smith Democratic New York 15,015,464 40.8% 87 Joseph Taylor Robinson Arkansas 87
Norman Thomas Socialist New York 267,478 0.7% 0 James H. Maurer Pennsylvania 0
William Z. Foster Communist Illinois 48,551 0.1% 0 Benjamin Gitlow New York 0
Other 48,396 0.1% Other
Total 36,807,012 100% 531 531
Needed to win 266 266

Source (Popular Vote): Leip, David. 1928 Presidential Election Results. Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections (July 28, 2005).

Source (Electoral Vote): Electoral College Box Scores 1789–1996. Official website of the National Archives. (July 28, 2005).


  • Kristi Andersen, The Creation of a Democratic Majority: 1928-1936 (1979), statistical analysis of voting
  • Bornet, Vaughn Davis; Labor Politics in a Democratic Republic: Moderation, Division, and Disruption in the Presidential Election of 1928 (1964) online edition
  • Douglas B. Craig. After Wilson: The Struggle for Control of the Democratic Party, 1920-1934 (1992)online edition see Chap. 6 "The Problem of Al Smith" and Chap. 8 "'Wall Street Likes Al Smith': The Election of 1928"
  • Christopher M. Finan. Alfred E. Smith: The Happy Warrior. (2003)
  • Michael J. Hostetler; "Gov. Al Smith Confronts the Catholic Question: The Rhetorical Legacy of the 1928 Campaign" Communication Quarterly, Vol. 46, 1998
  • Lichtman, Allan. Prejudice and the old politics: The Presidential election of 1928 (1979), statistical study
  • Edmund A. Moore; A Catholic Runs for President: The Campaign of 1928 (1956) online edition
  • Rudel, Anthony; "Before TV and the Internet--When Radio Was the First Electronic Medium," U.S. News and World Report, October 9, 2008
  • Daniel F. Rulli; "Campaigning in 1928: Chickens in Pots and Cars in Backyards," Teaching History: A Journal of Methods, Vol. 31#1 pp 42+ (2006) online version with lesson plans for class
  • Robert A. Slayton, Empire Statesman: The Rise and Redemption of Al Smith (2001), is the standard scholarly biography
  • Sweeney, James R. “Rum, Romanism, and Virginia Democrats: The Party Leaders and the Campaign of 1928.” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 90 (October 1982): 403–31.
  • Goldberg, David Joseph (1999). Discontented America. JHU Press. ISBN 9780801860058. 

Primary sources

  • Hoover, Herbert. The Memoirs of Herbert Hoover: The Cabinet and the Presidency, 1920-1933 (1952),
  • Smith, Alfred E. Campaign Addresses 1929.

See also


  1. ^ Rutland, Robert Allen (1996). The Republicans. p. 176. ISBN 9780826210906. 
  2. ^ Palmer, Niall A. (2006). The twenties in America. p. 128. ISBN 9780748620371. 
  3. ^ Walch, Timothy (1997). At the President's side. p. 36. ISBN 9780826211330. 
  4. ^ Mencken, Henry Louis; George Jean Nathan (1929). The American mercury. p. 404. 
  5. ^ Mieczkowski, Yanek; Mark Christopher Carnes (2001). The Routledge historical atlas of presidential elections. p. 94. ISBN 9780415921336. 
  6. ^ "Hoover's Speech". TIME. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,881167,00.html?iid=chix-sphere. Retrieved 2008-05-18. 
  7. ^ http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=57978
  8. ^ http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=60095
  9. ^ Paulson, Arthur C. (2000). Realignment and party revival. p. 52. ISBN 9780275968656. 
  10. ^ Binning, William C.; Larry Eugene Esterly, Paul A. Sracic (1999). Encyclopedia of American parties, campaigns, and elections. p. 135. ISBN 9780313303128. 
  11. ^ Ledbetter, Cal (2008-08-24). "Joe T. Robinson and the 1928 presidential election". Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock). 
  12. ^ Slayton, Robert A. (2001). Empire statesman. p. 304. ISBN 9780684863023. 
  13. ^ "O'Connor, Vaughan, Cuomo, Al Smith, J.F.K. - The New York Times". http://www.nytimes.com/1990/02/02/opinion/o-connor-vaughan-cuomo-al-smith-jfk.html. Retrieved 2009-05-19. 
  14. ^ Blocker, Jack S.; David M. Fahey, Ian R. Tyrrell (2003). Alcohol and temperance in modern history. ABC-CLIO. p. 51. ISBN 9781576078334. 
  15. ^ "Hoover Danced With Negro," Oelwein Daily Register (Oelwein, Iowa), October 18, 1928, p1
  16. ^ Rice, Arnold S. (1972). The Ku Klux Klan in American Politics. Haskell House Publishers. ISBN 9780838314272. 

External links



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