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. There was also a draft-Coolidge movement, which failed to gain significant traction.
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.
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." So, it was offered to Senator Curtis, who accepted, and he was nominated overwhelmingly on the first ballot.
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.
|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|
|Charles G. Dawes||4|
|Charles E. Hughes||1|
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. One who didn't was NY Governor Alfred E. Smith, who had tried twice before. The party bosses decided that it was safe to give him what would be, for all intents and purposes, an empty honor.
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.
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.
|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|
|Theodore G. Bilbo||1|
The Prohibition Convention was held in Chicago from July 10 through July 12. Although Smith did not openly come out against Prohibition, he was perceived by many as soft in the war against alcohol. 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. Nonetheless, William F. Varney was nominated for President over Hoover by a margin of 68–45. Hoover was on the California ballot as the Prohibition candidate.
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 sizeable 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 Senator Theodore Bilbo claimed that Hoover had met with a black member of the Republican National Committee and danced with her. But Smith's religion helped him with New England immigrants, which may explain his narrow victories in traditionally Republican Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Smith achieved one other distinction in this election: the Democrats won a majority of large cities for the first time, including the country's 12 most populous cities, signaling a trend of immense significance.
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Source (Electoral Vote):