Different Nominees in Locked Elections

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by John Fredrick Parker, Feb 11, 2019.

  1. John Fredrick Parker Donor

    May 22, 2010
    Los Angeles
    So as a sort of sister concept to this thread, I figured we could just talk about (a) those conventions, primaries, and leadership elections, (b) which while in themselves at least somewhat competitive, (c) are in advance of presidential or parliamentary elections where the incumbent party they’re set to challenge is pretty much guaranteed to lose (effectively making them the deciding contest for national president or pm).

    The examples that come to mind for the US:
    • 1852 and 1856 Democratic National Conventions
    • 1920 Republican National Convention
    • 1932 Democratic National Convention
    • 1952 Republican Primaries and Convention
    • 1980 Republican Primaries
    Meanwhile, in the UK:
    • 1975 Tory Leadership Election
    • 1994 Labour Leadership Election
    And so on. Any more ideas?
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
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  2. Nazi Space Spy Well-Known Member

    Jul 29, 2011
    Ah. So basically like Hillary Clinton or Evan Bayh in ‘08 instead of Obama?
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  3. Amadeus Well-Known Member

    Mar 19, 2017
    1852: Lewis Cass redeems his 1848 loss and beats Winfield Scott.
    1856: I'm not sure if this really was a "locked election" since the alternatives to Buchanan were two of the most hated men in the country. Fremont could have defeated Pierce IMO, but with Douglas you might see a hung electoral college.
    1920: Wood, Johnson, or Coolidge easily defeat Cox.
    1932: If not FDR, then you'd probably see some dark horse compromise candidate like Newton Baker beat Hoover instead.
    1952: Taft might actually lose to Stevenson, and even if he won the Presidency I doubt the GOP would be able to win the narrow Congressional majority they got in OTL.
    1980: Bush easily beats Carter.
  4. ejpsan Well-Known Member

    May 2, 2012
    Bush over Reagan in 1980, Reagan after losing the Iowa caucus was behind Bush in New Hampshire until Reagan ambushed him in a debate in the last weekend before the primary.
    If Bush won then the story would be that Reagan's campaign was in disarray, Reagan fired his campaign manager the day of the New Hampshire primary.
    The campaign was bleeding money and only with a change did the campaign gained control over the spending.
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  5. David T Well-Known Member

    Nov 8, 2007
    I disagree about 1952. While I think Taft would probably beat Stevenson, it would be close and I am by no means certain Taft would win. Remember that even the immensely popular Ike only won 55.2 percent of the vote. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1952_United_States_presidential_election From that you have to subtract (1) the Eisenhower votes Taft would lose simply because he wasn't Ike, and (2) those he would lose because of his own negatives--the widespread belief that he would do away with the whole New Deal and return the country to isolationism in foreign policy (though in fact these were both oversimplifications of Taft's actual views).

    Also in 1856 if 1.71 percent of the voters in LA, 2.12 in TN, and 2.51 percent in KY had switched from Buchanan to Fillmore, the race would have gone into the House. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1952_United_States_presidential_election
    Likewise, if the movement for a "fusion" ticket had succeeded in PA, it might well have carried the state--certainly if the Democrats had nominated someone other than Buchanan. https://www.alternatehistory.com/fo...ects-for-anti-buchanan-fusion-in-1856.349796/ Also, Fremont might have carried IL if he had done more to address the charge that he was a secret Catholic--or the Republicans might have nominated someone against whom the charge would be less plausible. https://www.alternatehistory.com/fo...on-fremont-lost-in-1856.444186/#post-17050380

    (I tend to think that if the 1856 race went into the House, there would be a deadlock, and the Democratic vice-presidential candidate would be named acting president by the Senate. So it would still be a Democratic victory, but not the kind the Democrats had in mind.)
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  6. John Fredrick Parker Donor

    May 22, 2010
    Los Angeles
    D'oh! I should have double checked before assuming that 1856 was as much of a lock as 1852; edit to OP made.
    Hm, you guys may have a point; as much of a landslide as 1952 was and as incredibly vulnerable as the Democrats were towards the end of Truman's second term, I didn't really take into account that Eisenhower was Eisenhower; Taft would still be massively helped by the fundamentals, but that's really all he'd have by himself. Very well, OP edited on this as well.
    Agreed on all counts. We've also discussed Sam Houston getting the 1852 nomination before (he would beat Scott), and I think even someone like Anderson would more likely than not beat Carter in 1980 (not that he has a really plausible shot at the nomination, just saying). As for 1932, even if Al Smith managed to get the nomination, making 1932 a rematch of 1928, I expect he'd still win.
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  7. Mikestone8 Well-Known Member

    Mar 13, 2010
    Peterborough, UK.
    We seem to have overlooked 1912.

    That year it could be any of Champ Clark, WJ Bryan, Thomas R Marshall, or any of a platoon of relatively obscure Democrats who might have emerged from a deadlocked Convention. Any of these would have won by much the same margin as did Wilson.
  8. Amadeus Well-Known Member

    Mar 19, 2017
    I don't think Bryan had any chance of being nominated a fourth time - the Democratic leadership just wouldn't allow it. But Clark or Marshall could feasibly have become the nominee, and either one would've been elected President.
  9. Mikestone8 Well-Known Member

    Mar 13, 2010
    Peterborough, UK.
    I sometimes wonder if Bryan might have got the nod had he kept his mouth shut. Had Clark, after a few more ballots, still failed to turn his narrow majority into a two-thirds, and Bryan not alienated Clark's supporters by his clumsy intervention, the delegates might have turned to him. As it was, the Clark men preferred to switch to Wilson rather than risk allowing WJB to profit from his "backstabbing".

    I agree, though, that the odds were much against him after three defeats. To be in with a chance he probably needs to have skipped 1908 on some excuse or other.
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  10. DrHackenslash Member

    Aug 11, 2017
    Anybody leading Labour would have won in 1997, only question would be the size of the majority.

    The other two candidates - Prescott and Beckett - would have beaten Major and secured a working majority. Likely large enough to all but guarantee an easy win in 2001 as per OTL, although their decision over Iraq makes anything after a toss up.
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  11. John Fredrick Parker Donor

    May 22, 2010
    Los Angeles
    @Mikestone8 Yeah, I actually thought about putting 1912 on there too, but held back since it was technically the Republican Party splitting a few days earlier that actually guaranteed them the election; if, say, Roosevelt had managed to get the nomination, than at the very least the election would have been competitive.
  12. David T Well-Known Member

    Nov 8, 2007
    One could add 1840 to the list in that it is almost certain that Clay or Scott could have defeated Van Buren. The Whigs did not have to make their (ultimately disastrous) decision to "play it safe" with Harrison. (Of course it was disastrous only because of the vice-presidential candidate they chose.)

    However, the Whig convention was actually held in 1839, when the Democrats were staging a temporary comeback (there had been some degree of economic recovery after the Panic of 1837) and many Whigs didn't think Clay could win. The economic recovery of 1838-9 gave way to a "second wave of bank suspensions and price declines at the end of 1839" https://books.google.com/books?id=hMkYklGTY1MC&pg=PA84 and before long it was clear that 1840 would be a Whig year, but this came too late for Clay.
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  13. Mikestone8 Well-Known Member

    Mar 13, 2010
    Peterborough, UK.

    The Republicans were doomed long before their Convention met. They had by then been fighting each other hammer and tongs for months.

    This is why I see Bryan as a possible nominee. Early in the Primary campaign, there was at least a theoretical possibility that the Republicans might patch up a compromise deal which, if not enabling them to actually win, might at least make the election competitive enough that it could make a noticeable difference whom the Democrats nominated. Hence their reluctance to go with Bryan again. However, by the time the Conventions actually met, it was clear to the blindest that the Republican split was irreparable for the foreseeable future, and the Dems were sure winners even if they nominated a dead dog. So there was no longer any pressing need to reject Bryan.
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  14. John Fredrick Parker Donor

    May 22, 2010
    Los Angeles
    Here’s a related idea - what about those locked elections where the winner went on to die in office? Who else could have been selected as running mate in those rare elections where it really ended up mattering?
    • 1839 - who else if not John Tyler?
    • 1864 - who else if not Andrew Johnson?
    • 1900 - who else if not Theodore Roosevelt?
    • 1920 - who else if not Coolidge?
    (All assuming the same nominee, mind you.)
  15. David T Well-Known Member

    Nov 8, 2007
    (1) 1839: Harrison was, despite his being born in Virginia, considered a Northerner, so it was thought that his running mate should be a southern Clay supporter. Unfortunately, most of the plausible Clay supporters (e.g., Clay's fellow-Kentuckian Crittenden, John Clayton of Delaware--still considered, if just barely, a southern state, etc.) declined out of loyalty to Clay. However, one who later claimed that had he been in Harrisburg in person he might have accepted was Willie Mangum of North Carolina. https://www.alternatehistory.com/fo...s-almost-got-president-mangum-in-1841.349475/ I would take that with a grain of salt because Mangum only said that after Tyler hjad become president and Mangum realized the chance he had missed...

    As I posted some time ago.

    "Now as it happened, Clay in the late 1830's had been somewhat muting (though hardly abandoning) his nationalism and harshly condemning Northern abolitionists. This got him the support of John Tyler of Virginia, a strong states' righter. Because Tyler seemed (quite wrongly) a prototypical Southern Clay supporter, and because nobody else who fit that description would accept the nomination, Tyler (who had been Hugh White's running mate on "opposition" tickets in the South in 1836) was chosen.

    "The result was a tragedy for the Whig Party. Harrison died soon after taking office and Tyler became president and proceeded to show that he was as opposed as ever to the Whigs' nationalist economic program--and would use his veto to block it. Furthermore, Tyler ruined any chance to make 1844 a referendum on Whig versus Democratic economic policies by pushing for the annexation of Texas--and in the most sectionally divisive way conceivable, with his Secretary of State, John Calhoun, explaining that Texas must be annexed to frustrate British plans to abolish slavery there...."

    The one northerner I could just possibly see being nominated for the vice-presidency was Daniel Webster. There was some support for him among Pennsylvania Whigs and Anti-Masons. Robert Remini (in Daniel Webster: The Man and His Time) thinks that if before his departure Webster had "in any way encouraged Thurlow Weed to advance his candidacy for second place, it is conceivable that he would have been nominated and elected." https://books.google.com/books?id=abJ4Ctql6M0C&pg=PA501
    but see my post at https://www.alternatehistory.com/fo...-william-henry-harrison.455416/#post-17865898 for why I doubt this.

    (2) 1864: "Former Governor William M. Stone of Iowa in an 1891 interview said that Lincoln had told him in 1864 that it might be best to have some prominent Union Democrat on the ticket. "He then named as vice-presidential possibilities Joseph Holt of Kentucky, and John A. Dix, Daniel S. Dickinson, and Lyman Tremaine of New York in addition to [Ben] Butler and Johnson. The President also mentioned 'some others of lesser note that I am not now able to recall.'" H. Draper Hunt, *Hannibal Hamlin of Maine: Lincoln's First Vice-President* (Syracuse University Press 1969).

    "I've seen a lot of speculation about Butler but I am very skeptical he would be chosen because (1) his war record was, to say the least, controversial, (2) while he did have a certain demagogic popularity with the working classes of New England, the election was hardly likely to hinge on New England, and (3) according to Stone, Lincoln said that in addition to rewarding Union Democrats, another of his purposes was to conciliate Southerners--a goal which would certainly not be well served by naming "Beast" Butler...

    "Holt sounds like a safe choice if Lincoln wanted a southern Union Democrat and Johnson was for some reason unavailable." https://www.alternatehistory.com/fo...t-lincoln-veeps-in-1864.444947/#post-17102564

    (3) 1900: Here's an old post of mine from soc.history.what-if which I preserved at https://www.alternatehistory.com/fo...-killed-at-san-juan-hill.324957/#post-9541232


    We'll assume that Theodore Roosevelt is killed in the Spanish-American War
    or loses the 1898 race for Governor of New York, or that leading
    Republicans outside New York object to Boss Platt's attempt to remove him
    from New York by giving him the vice-presidential nomination (in OTL Mark
    Hanna rebuked them in vain, reportedly asking them "Don't any of you
    realize that there's only one life between this madman and the White
    House?") or that McKinley responds positively to the appeal of Senator
    Charles Dick, Secretary of the Republican National Committee, to stop the
    TR boom. [1] (Another possibility, of course, is TR himself declining, as
    he said he would do--but the pull of party loyalty and the need to do
    whatever was necessary to defeat the unspeakable Bryan outweighed his
    reluctance to give up the Governorship of New York for the vice-
    presidency. TR had written to Henry Cabot Lodge in 1899 that "The Vice-
    Presidency is a most honorable office, but for a young man there is not
    much to do. It is infinitely better than many other positions, but it
    hardly seems to me as good as being Governor of this State, which is a
    pretty important State...If I am Vice-President I am 'planted' for four
    years. Here I can turn around.")

    So who are the alternatives to TR, one of whom will become President in
    1901 unless the assassination of McKinley is somehow butterflied away?

    (1) Elihu Root, Secretary of War, might have had the job if he wanted it,
    but he announced several months prior to the Convention that he would not
    seek it. (It was soon after Root's statement that the TR boom gathered

    (2) John D. Long of Massachusetts, Secretary of the Navy since 1897 (he
    had been Governor of Massachusetts and then a Congressman from that
    state). According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Davis_Long he
    "served with vision and efficiency through the next five years, organizing
    the Navy for the challenges of the Spanish-American War and the expansion
    that followed, and laying the groundwork for the growth of the 'New
    American Navy' fostered by his former assistant, President Theodore
    Roosevelt." So if he became President he could be much like TR in terms
    of advocating an expanded navy and a vigorous foreign policy; I am less
    certain, however, about his domestic policy.

    (3) Cornelius N. Bliss, ex-Secretary of the Interior under McKinley. He
    declined to seek the vice-presidency in OTL.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornelius_Newton_Bliss "A consistent advocate
    of the protective tariff, he was one of the organizers and for many years
    president of the American Protective Tariff League." Well, we can be sure
    he is not going to do anything to lower the tariff--though come to think
    of it, TR didn't do much in that direction, either. But even apart from
    this, he seems likely to be considerably more conservative than TR.

    (4) Senator William B. Allison of Iowa.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_B._Allison Kevin Philips has
    suggested that in 1896 he was the only possible GOP presidential candidate
    other than McKinley who could have defeated Bryan: "Among those favored
    by the machine chiefs, the most plausible winner was Iowa Senator William
    B. Allison. Respected in the Senate, he had coauthored major silver
    legislation in 1878 with Missouri Democratic Congress­man 'Silver Dick'
    Bland. Despite his age (sixty-seven) and lackluster public persona, he
    might have been able to hold most of the Midwest. If so, Quay, Platt, and
    the other Eastern leaders presumably could have carried their own
    bailiwicks for Allison against a Bryan caricatured as a lineal descendant
    of Marat and Robespierre."

    But Allison's age (71 in 1900) does present a problem for the vice-
    presidential nomination and makes it questionable whether, should he
    become President on McKinley's assassination, he will seek a full term in
    1904. (He might; after all, in OTL he served in the Senate until his
    death in 1908.)

    (5) The other Senator from Iowa, Jonathan P. Dolliver.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_P._Dolliver Born in 1858, he was
    almost as young as TR. As noted in the 1910 New York Times obituary at
    he became an "insurgent," an ally of Senator La Follette, and a critic of the
    Payne-Aldrich Tariff (though he had previously been a strong protectionist)
    toward the end of his life. As of 1900 he had been considered a "stand
    patter"--a typical McKinley Republican (he delivered a widely noted speech in
    defense of the annexation of the Philippines) and an ally of Allison. After
    McKinley's death he became a staunch supporter of TR.

    (6) Charles W. Fairbanks of Indiana. I discussed him at
    He is said to be McKinley's own choice as a successor. But precisely for
    that reason, I doubt that McKinley would want him as a running mate--in
    those days, the Vice-President was rarely a serious contender for the
    presidential nomination. But McKinley seems to have sincerely believed
    that choosing the vice-presidential nominee was the business of the
    convention, not of the president or presidential nominee (this is one
    reason why he made no attempt to block TR, though he was not very
    enthusiastic about him).

    Most of the alternative candidates look like they would be more
    conservative than TR--Dolliver's move to progressivism was made later and
    it is questionable whether it would have happened without the example of
    TR as President. (Indeed, some of them might have been more conservative
    than McKinley himself, who sought good relations with organized labor and
    who in his last speech showed a willingness to modify his protectionism
    with reciprocity treaties. It is even possible that McKinley would have
    initiated the Northern Securities antirust case himself; Hanna was later
    to say, "I warned Hill that McKinley might have to act against his damn
    company last year. Mr. Roosevelt's done it. I'm sorry for Hill, but just
    what do you gentlemen think I can do?") OTOH, I think that at least some
    of the alternative candidates would have looked more closely at the option
    of turning to Nicaragua after the Colombians turned down the proposed
    canal treaty, instead of encouraging revolution in Panama. This might
    have slightly delayed the building of a canal, but would have left Latin
    Americans less angry with the US.

    Of course some of these candidates, especially the older ones like
    Allison, might not have run for a full presidential term in 1904. In that
    event, possible Republican candidates that year might include TR himself
    (if he had managed to be re-elected Governor of New York--but conservative
    opposition at the national convention would be hard to overcome) or Hanna
    (if these events butterfly away his fatal typhoid fever of early 1904) or
    Root or Lodge or Joseph Foraker, whom I discuss at
    [1] Though even if he did so, it is not clear that he would be successful,
    given that TR had considerable support in the West. Charles G. Dawes did
    not want TR selected, but he warned "There is an inclination now for the
    administration to step in along later in the night and announce that
    perhaps it is best for Mr. Long to be the candidate. I think that is
    based on a wrong diagnosis of the situation. I think as soon as that is
    announced that the delegations of the west will say,--'That's dictation'--
    and will change their votes to Roosevelt..." Walter LaFeber, "Election of
    1900," in Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Fred L. Israel, and William P.
    Hanson (eds) *History of American Presidential Elections 1789-1968, Volume
    III*, p. 1937.


    (4) 1920: I had a three part series in soc.history.what-if on Irvine Lenroot becoming VP and (after Harding's death) president. It has been preserved at https://www.alternatehistory.com/shwi/President%20Irvine%20Lenroot.txt

    As I noted there, if Harding had made clear to the convention that Lenroot was his personal choice, not just that of an alleged "senatorial cabal," there is a good chance they would have accepted him.

    Perhaps Hiram Johnson could have had the post if he had been willing to accept it, but he was very unwilling, as I explain at https://www.alternatehistory.com/fo...nson-swallows-his-pride.452594/#post-17644527
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  16. John Fredrick Parker Donor

    May 22, 2010
    Los Angeles
    @David T I notice you didn't mention the runner up for the 1896 VP slot, Henry Clay Evans, as one of the possibilities. Does he stand a plausible chance of being the nominee? And relatedly, is it possible that GOP leaders decide to look into putting a Southern Republican on the ticket, to make a play for at least part of the South?
  17. David T Well-Known Member

    Nov 8, 2007
    A major problem Evans would face is that "By 1900, [Walter P.] Brownlow effectively controlled the Tennessee Republican Party"--and Brownlow hated Evans. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_P._Brownlow
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  18. John Fredrick Parker Donor

    May 22, 2010
    Los Angeles
    That does make you wonder who the GOP would pick if they should make more of a play for the upper south.

    Looking at the 1896 results, I'd say that in that eventuality they're most like to pick someone from Kentucky, Tennessee, or North Carolina. I think we can safely assume that Daniel Lindsey Russell is right out? As is, I'd guess, William S Taylor, for similar reasons. A couple of names from the state delegations - William Joseph Deboe and Samuel Johnson Pugh - I don't know anything of one way or the other. So really, that would just leave Governor William O'Connell Bradley, Senator Jeter Connolly Pritchard, and... Rep Brownlow.

    What do you think more generally of the "Southern VP" idea? And do any of the other names look plausible, or more plausible than Henry Clay Evans?
  19. David T Well-Known Member

    Nov 8, 2007
    I would say that by 1900 the South--unless you include Kentucky--was a forlorn hope for the GOP. All eleven "real" Confederate states went for Bryan by at least eight points. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1900_United_States_presidential_election TN always had a "respectable" Republican minority but it was mostly confined to the eastern part of the state, and had not really come close to carrying the state for a GOP presidential candidate since 1884.
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  20. overninethousands Banned

    Feb 5, 2019
    I keep reading the title as "Lockheed elections" and think about the bribery scandals in Japan Italy and elsewhere...