Republican Party (United States) Presidential Primaries, 1940 - The Convention

The Convention

At the 1940 Republican National Convention itself, keynote speaker Harold Stassen, the Governor of Minnesota, announced his support for Willkie and became his official floor manager. Hundreds of vocal Willkie supporters packed the upper galleries of the convention hall. Willkie's amateur status, his fresh face, appealed to delegates as well as voters. The delegations were selected not by primaries but by party leaders in each state, and they had a keen sense of the fast-changing pulse of public opinion. Gallup found the same thing in polling data not reported until after the convention: Willkie had moved ahead among Republican voters by 44% to only 29% for the collapsing Dewey. As the pro-Willkie galleries repeatedly yelled "We Want Willkie", the delegates on the convention floor began their vote. Dewey led on the first ballot but steadily lost strength thereafter. Both Taft and Willkie gained in strength on each ballot, and by the fourth ballot it was obvious that either Willkie or Taft would be the nominee. The key moments came when the delegations of large states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New York left Dewey and Vandenberg and switched to Willkie, giving him the victory on the sixth ballot. The voting went like this:

Presidential vote
ballot; 1 2 3 4 5 6
Thomas E. Dewey 360 338 315 250 57 11
Ohio Senator Robert A. Taft 189 203 212 254 377 310
Wendell L. Willkie 105 171 259 306 429 633
Michigan Senator Arthur Vandenberg 76 73 72 61 42 -
Pennsylvania Governor Arthur H. James 74 66 59 56 59 1
Massachusetts Rep. Joseph W. Martin 44 26 - - - -
Hanford MacNider 32 34 28 26 4 2
Frank E. Gannett 33 30 11 9 1 1
New Hampshire Senator Styles Bridges 19 9 1 1 - -
Former President Herbert Hoover 17 - - - 20 9
Oregon Senator Charles L. McNary 3 10 10 8 9 -

Willkie's nomination is still considered by most historians to have been one of the most dramatic moments in any political convention. Having given little thought to who he would select as his vice-presidential nominee, Willkie left the decision to convention chairman and Massachusetts Congressman Joe Martin, the House Minority Leader, who suggested Senate Minority Leader Charles L. McNary of Oregon. Despite the fact that McNary had spearheaded a "Stop Willkie" campaign late in the balloting, the candidate picked him to be his running mate:

Vice Presidential vote
Charles L. McNary 848
Dewey Short 108
Styles Bridges 2

Read more about this topic:  Republican Party (United States) Presidential Primaries, 1940

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