|‹ 1940 1948 ›|
|United States Presidential election, 1944|
|November 7, 1944|
|Candidate||Prescott Bush||Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr.|
|Running mate||Thomas E. Dewey||Stephen Coomber|
|Red denotes Bush/Dewey, Blue denotes Kennedy/Coomber|
The United States Presidential election of 1944 was held on Tuesday, November 7, 1944. Contested during a period of weak economic growth in the aftermath of the 1939-40 recession and national opposition to the disastrous occupation of Canada from 1941-43, Nationalist Prescott Bush of Connecticut defeated incumbent Democratic President Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. of Masachusetts in a race that was closely contested in the popular vote, with Bush winning with a mere ten electoral votes and only a 1.3% margin of the popular vote despite defeating Kennedy by a 234 electoral vote margin in the electoral college. The election marked the fourth Presidential race (out of five) since 1928 that the Nationalists had won.
The election was viewed as the last-gasp defeat of the isolationist and protectionist wing of the National Party, which attempted to nominate Senator Robert Taft or Governor John W. Bricker (both of Ohio) to the Presidency after a contested primary left no clear frontrunner. The ticket of Bush and then-Governor of New York Thomas Dewey wound up being successful, propelling the two men to eight years in the White House and cementing in place the liberal-to-moderate Eastern Establishment wing of the National Party, which would dominate American politics for the next sixty years.
National Party Nomination
Primaries and Convention
The fourteen primaries held split roughly evenly amongst the four major candidates (Bricker, Danner, Bush and Dewey), with Danner entering the convention with a moderate lead over Bush. At the convention, party leadership (notably including former President Herbert Hoover) decided that despite the nation's overwhelmingly anti-interventionist mood after the Canadian occupation, the threat posed by France was now too great to be ignored by isolationists like Bricker or his sponsor, Taft. Despite attempts to place Bricker and Taft on the main ballots, only Bush and Danner advanced to the second round after each clearing a vote threshold that eliminated other competitors.
Bush gave a plainspoken, straightforward speech speaking of internationalism, free trade, and the importance of a strong military. He resolutely promised that "the second half of this century will inexorably be an American century - with the conclusion of the conflicts and wars in Europe, we stand in a position unseen in our nation's history to shape the world." Bush had the backing of business interests interested in expanding into recovering markets in Europe and throughout the world. Danner, meanwhile, gave an underwhelming address to the convention, failing to arouse the passions of either conservative Midwesterners or moderate Easterners. Bush won the nomination, much to the surprise of the national media. While many suggested Bush appoint a conservative his running mate to shore up the right wing of the party, he made a shocking move by selecting Dewey as his running mate, viewing him as the key to carrying New York, which at the time was essentially the key to winning the election.