Something I've been meaning to make and post for a little while now is the electoral map for Patton's election in 1952:
Despite the personal popularity of President Truman, after twenty years of continued Democratic government there was a growing desire for change among the American people. Political commentators, particularly after the Republicans won sweeping victories in the 1950 midterm elections, frequently labelled the upcoming 1952 election as 'unwinnable' for any Democratic candidate, especially after Truman announced that he would not run for a third term. As late as October 1951, the near-universal expectation was that the Republican National Convention would be choosing a president, not just a candidate.
When George Patton initially announced that he would run a campaign for the White House, few believed it would last very long. Patton had never appeared to strongly favour either party, and his policies could not be predicted now that there were no more Nazis or Communists to go to war with. His only notable contribution to the Democratic party had been a few post-war speeches supporting President Truman as the 'victorious President' in 1946, and when he retired three months to the day after the Soviet Union fell, many thought they had heard the last of the man that had dominated headlines for the second half of the war.
That choice to retire may have been a decisive factor in Patton's eventual win. General Eisenhower, Patton's superior during the war, ran a campaign for the Republican nomination in the 1952 election as well, but was continually hounded for "not bringing the boys back home" quickly enough for their liking. Patton, who had virtually nothing to do with the occupation before retirement, could claim victory in the war without fear of the backlash that came with the handling of the years that followed.
Nonetheless, Patton knew that he would be facing an uphill battle, even after he secured the Democratic nomination in a landslide. Robert S. Kerr of Oklahoma was chosen as his running mate, partly because of his personal popularity as a successful governor of Oklahoma but also because he could be a calming influence on Patton's dynamic personality (this would prove to be very beneficial during Patton's term in office). While Kerr managed the campaign from the shadows, Patton led from the front, and nowhere was this more obvious than Patton's pledge to visit every one of the forty-eight states before election day.
Patton's platform was one of four key promises. The first was to "Keep Things Going", intending to continue New Deal policies as they had existed under Roosevelt and Truman (and to the south, a promise to go no further on Truman's racial reforms). Second was to "Stay Strong", building America's military strength by encouraging unemployed people to seek careers in the armed services (a prospect that looked more appealing now that there was very little threat of war on the horizon). Third was "Open Government", whereby Patton would seek to make it easier for citizens to approach government services, and reducing the wide range of federal agencies to a smaller and more manageable number in the interests of accessibility. Finally, he promised to "Connect the Country" with a major road-building program, an idea he came up with after remembering the many times that poor-quality roads had slowed his forces down in Russia ("if you want progress in anything, you've got to have roads!").
His Republican opponents, Earl Warren and Harold Stassen, promised above all a change in policy, but their calm and orderly campaign was frequently attacked by Patton as "boring". Patton by contrast ran a very aggressive campaign, oftentimes announcing his appearances in states only days before they were set to occur to draw in the most attention, and his commitment to visit every state saw many undecided voters come to believe in him as "the President of all Americans". Patton was also able to leverage his Southern heritage to unite the South and avoid another 'Dixiecrat' split in the party. On November 4th, Patton's hard work paid off, as he won the 'unwinnable election' 294 to 237, with 57% of the popular vote.