What if Warren '48

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by nickboy000, Aug 10, 2018.

  1. nickboy000 Buchanan Brigade (Culture Warrior) Banned

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    What if Earl Warren won the 1948 Republican primary? Who would his running mate be? Would he beat Truman? Would he get the Western states that went to Truman? Who would his running mate be?
     
  2. The Lethargic Lett Giving Peace a Chance

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    There's a reason Earl Warren never got the Presidential nomination: he was the Ted Cruz of his time in terms of likability within the party. Warren, although a good governor and a brilliant Supreme Court Justice, was described as snobbish and somewhat self-entitled, and was pretty consistently in feuds and games of one-ups-manship wih other California Republicans, such as William Knowland and Richard Nixon. I don't see him being popular or likeable enough amongst the Republican higher ups to ever get the nod.

    But assuming he did, Truman still beats him. Warren wins California, but may well lose Maryland and Delaware depending on how overtly he campaigned for civil rights, and may well have lost New York without the home state appeal.

    As for running mates, I can see Harold Stassen, Charles Halleck, or some foreign policy specialist or military man.
     
  3. Amadeus Well-Known Member

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    A Warren Administration in 1949 would essentially be Eisenhower's Presidency four years early - with the exception of Brown V. Board. Supposing that Warren either avoids the Korean debacle or handles it better than Truman and he is reelected in 1952, he would publically support Brown v. Board in 1954 and be more active in trying to pass civil rights legislation. (That case is still decided in favor of desegregation without Warren as Chief Justice, thanks to FDR the Court had a solid liberal majority in 1954). Under Eisenhower this took three years, but I expect that social progress could happen earlier under Warren.
     
  4. David T Well-Known Member

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  5. GeographyDude Well-Known Member

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    and wasn’t Warren in fact Dewey’s running mate in ‘48?
     
  6. Shevek23 Spherical Cow-poke

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    I don't see any reason it would go other than OTL.

    1) Everybody and their brother, Democrats and Republicans alike, by which I refer to the large but still limited class of opinion leaders, not grassroots masses, turns on Harry Truman and declares him to be a dead duck. The reasons they give are many--to leftist Democrats he is not progressive enough, to rightist Dixiecrats he is a pinko; to Republicans he is both pink and the lesser avatar of the New Deal Beast they have been hunting since 1932. Nobody (who is anybody that is) loves him. He might as well pack it in, if he won't concede to let some other Democrat try to hold off the inevitable Republican slaughter, he is more doomed than most to be brought down by it. So runs all conventional wisdom.
    2) So it almost does not matter who the Republicans nominate, at least if they avoid an extremist like Taft. Taftites of course argue they are the ones with the principles the voters long for and will respect and the surest bet, but everyone agrees some rookie kid out of Peoria can knock Truman out of the ring. So why not Earl Warren? Well, others have told us why not Earl Warren, but let's say some goofy set of weird circumstances, including perhaps Thomas Dewey being run over by a streetcar, puts Warren to the top of the Republican list.
    3) Wading through piles of newspapers preprinted with headlines along the lines of "Warren Wipes out Truman" Harry Truman wakes up knowing that before he went to bed the night before, his victory by quite comfortable margins of popular vote and Electoral Vote was assured, for he had gone to the American people and campaigned like a rabid wolverine, and his coattails have also delivered a hell of a Democratic landslide in House and Senate. He has appealed to and converted the poor countryside voters of at least one Republican stronghold state, shored up and solidified the traditional votes of most reliably Democratic ones, and mobilized the masses against the self-interested and do-nothing Republicans. He handily waved off the vampiric drain of not one but two spoiler campaigns, one of which won no EV but switched New York from a Democratic slam dunk to a Warren victory.

    He's headed for trouble, a breakdown, and at least 4 more years of his party sledding heavily against a Republican/conservative backlash. But 1948 was not its year; it was the Indian Summer of the New Deal's glory days and a radiant one it was to many a grassroots New Deal voter. Warren's got nothing Dewey didn't. Truman is still his scrappy self. Voters still were ill served by Republican obstructionism and Truman knew how to make that case to them.
     
  7. Amadeus Well-Known Member

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    But if you switch only three states that Truman barely won: Illinois, Ohio, and California (Warren's hone state) then the Republicans would have won. Many historians - and Dewey himself - agree that if Dewey's campaign had hit back against Truman's attacks in the fall prior to the election, then Dewey would have won. The reason that Dewey ran such a mellow campaign devoid of attacks against the unpopular Truman is that he felt negative campaigning had backfired in 1944. (In actuality, his attacks against FDR worked extremely well and he did the best of all of Roosevelt's opponents). So he practically sat out the 1948 campaign and simply made vague, unpolitical speeches that inspired no one. Warren, who didn't have the experience of losing four years earlier, would probably have engaged in an energetic campaign against Truman as Dewey should have. So Warren just might have beaten Truman, but perhaps without the popular vote.
     
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  8. Shevek23 Spherical Cow-poke

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    Funny thing about the Electoral Vote and the popular vote though...It just about always does jibe, EV selecting and usually greatly amplifying the victory of a candidate in popular vote. Ah, there are exceptions you say! Indeed, four and counting so far since the 1830s when the popular vote of the nation became a meaningful thing to track and measure. But of these four, two are cases which, now with a century and more's hindsight, historic consensus affirms were in fact frauds. Indeed right back in 1876 itself hardly anyone pretended to believe the '76 official outcomes as manipulated blatantly by Republican officials were anything but faked. It was widely understood Hayes's single vote margin victory over Tilden in the Electoral Votes was engineered, but a lot of Republicans supported it on the grounds that the Southern Democratic numbers were equally mendacious, being the result of gross voter repression by infamous means. One down three to go. 1888 was not so obviously a criminal bit of fraud at the time, but in fact historical judgement comes down to agree that it really was. Republican operatives tipped the balance in Indiana to guarantee Grover Cleveland would lose the EV of that state and thus the nation. Now we are down to just two cases of divergence between popular vote and the Electoral Vote system. I give a free throw to just one of them, 2016. I am unaware of any evidence for fraudulent manipulation of cast votes to flip any states from Clinton to Trump in 2016--that does not mean I think it was a clean election, but our elections are ordinarily rather grimy and messed up affairs. Various layers of voter repression and intimidation might be shown to have tipped the balance but most of these tactics are considered more or less legitimate. More or less. The Republicans have in fact been repeatedly found to have acted wrongly by Federal judges and admonished to sin no more only to use the same tactics all over again for another round of knuckle-rapping and tsk tsking at. In 2000 I blame the unclear results for Florida which pretty much guaranteed a pro-Bush outcome one way or another on the grossly partisan banning of hundreds of thousands of mostly enrolled Democrats just days before the election by Katharine Harris, Florida Secretary of State. So in my view that one is a clear case of fraud as well--had Florida elections not been prejudiced time and again by massive acts of fraud to tip the scales to the Governor's brother, once again the popular vote and electoral vote would jibe in outcome.

    That's one case in over 50 elections then when it seems the Electoral Vote system failed to point to the plurality winner as its elected choice, by honest and not plainly manipulatively fraudulent means.

    So it is that I doubt very much that in real life, unless some criminals intervene to change the official outcomes by their strategic choice, any electoral vote will differ from the popular vote. Chances are I believe about 1 in 50, less than 2 percent, this will happen. We have to look for reasons that the popular vote will shift and then the electoral vote will follow, otherwise it is highly unlikely enough states will flip to disfavor the popular vote winner.

    Or you could postulate criminals who get away with it. God knows it is known to history to have happened twice and I suspect that as the W administration slips out of living memory, more and more historians will acknowledge he needed three or four waves of blatant anti-Democratic fraud and repression to win in 2000, raising it to three. At best, based entirely on conventional wisdom, a criminal conspiracy to steal the electoral vote is exactly as probable as an honest failure of the two to line up.

    Why and how it is the Electoral Vote system, when not tampered with, has this uncanny ability to agree with the popular vote despite the ease with which one can chart out paper paths to victory of the popular vote loser is an interesting subject for analysis. Perhaps indeed it is an illusion--the most extreme cases in which a PV loser can become an EV winner span a narrow range of very close elections, and other elections where one candidate's PV strength takes them out of this middle zone should not be counted statistically, and we'd find so few ultra squeaker PV contests that we don't have enough sample cases for a statistically significant universe yet--and that the outcomes so far, which by my reckoning is one honest victory for the non-PV winner, and conventional wisdom two, are in line with reasonable expectations. Maybe we can even be shown to be an outlier with fewer such outcomes than expected.

    But I would also assert that if the EV system quite often diverged from PV, rather than accept that, we'd change the system. Most Americans agree that whoever wins the national popular vote should be the President, not someone else.

    So you can pretend Warren could win all you like, and indeed you would sound just as plausible and reasonable as the majority of conventional wisdom OTL. Anyone with the benefit of hindsight information has an advantage obviously! My guess though is that Warren does worse with PV than Dewey, and any flipping of one state Warren's way is going to be offset by flipping two other state's Truman's way. It was true a very few votes could flip a number of states away from Truman and make Dewey the winner. But a very few votes could flip other states from Dewey to Truman by that same token. In fact there will always be a few states that hang in the balance by a few votes in every election. This notion that Truman's 1948 election in his own right was in any way a close run thing is the product of the erroneous conventional wisdom that cast such a cloud over him before the election suffering sour grapes and looking for excuses to justify their embarrassing miscalculation.