Post wwii presidential politics
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Post-WWII Presidential Politics. A quick note. Presidential election years are ALWAYS evenly divisible by 4 Presidents assume office the following January 2008 – Obama elected 2009 – Obama’s presidency began. Harry S Truman (D) 1945-1953 Missouri. Ascended after FDR died in Warm Springs

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Post-WWII Presidential Politics

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Post-WWII Presidential Politics


A quick note

  • Presidential election years are ALWAYS evenly divisible by 4

  • Presidents assume office the following January

  • 2008 – Obama elected

  • 2009 – Obama’s presidency began


Harry S Truman (D) 1945-1953 Missouri

  • Ascended after FDR died in Warm Springs

  • Was POTUS last months of WWII

  • Badly unprepared

    • FDR was secretive

  • Start of Cold War

  • Korean War (50-53)


Harry S Truman (D) 1945-1953 Missouri

  • VERY UNPOPULAR while president

    • Approval rating 36% in spring of 1948

  • Won a miracle come from behind election over Thomas Dewey (GOP Gov of NY)


Dwight D. Eisenhower(R) 1953-1961 Kansas

  • Served as Supreme Allied Commander in WWII

  • Universally beloved in post-war era

  • Had no known political affiliation

  • Both parties wanted him, GOP won


Dwight D. Eisenhower(R) 1953-1961 Kansas

  • Easily won elections in 1952 and 1956

  • Democrats put up token opposition

  • Adlai Stevenson (Dem Gov of IL) lost both elections


Dwight D. Eisenhower(R) 1953-1961 Kansas

  • First elections that used TV

  • Neither candidate knew how to do it

  • Very unsophisticated use of media


John F. Kennedy(D) 1961-1963 Massachusetts

  • Elected in very close 1960 race

  • Defeated Richard Nixon, who was Eisenhower’s VP

  • First campaign that understood impact of television


John F. Kennedy(D) 1961-1963 Massachusetts

  • Berlin Wall (1961)

  • Cuban Missile Crisis (1962)

  • Assassinated in Dallas in Nov 1963


Lyndon B. Johnson(D) 1963-1969 Texas

  • Ascended after JFK was shot in Dallas

  • Civil Rights Era

  • Vietnam War

  • Moon Landing


Lyndon B. Johnson(D) 1963-1969 Texas

  • Won 1964 election easily over Sen. Barry Goldwater (R, AZ)

    • Goldwater threatened nuclear war in Vietnam


Lyndon B. Johnson(D) 1963-1969 Texas

  • But 1st time most of the south voted GOP

  • Final southern shift would take abt 20 yrs


Richard M. Nixon(R) 1969-1974 California

  • Had been Ike’s VP in 1950s

  • Before being VP had strong reputation as anti-communist

  • Lost to Kennedy in ’60


Richard M. Nixon(R) 1969-1974 California

  • Won two comfortable elections

  • 1968 defeated Hubert Humphrey

    • LBJ’s VP (D, MN)


Richard M. Nixon(R) 1969-1974 California

  • 1972 soundly defeated Senator George McGovern (Dem, SD)

  • Won 49 of 50 states, only lost MA and DC


Richard M. Nixon(R) 1969-1974 California

  • In 1972, campaign workers broke into McGovern’s campaign HQ in Watergate Hotel

  • White House covered up the break-in

  • After conspiracy revealed, resigned in disgrace


Gerald R. Ford(R) 1974-1977 Michigan

  • Was All-American center for Michigan Wolverines

  • Drafted by Packers, decided to go to Yale Law School instead


Gerald R. Ford(R) 1974-1977 Michigan

  • Served in US House from Michigan

  • Became replacement VP when Spiro Agnew resigned in 1973

    • Scandal totally unrelated to Watergate

  • Only POTUS never actually elected to any national office


Gerald R. Ford(R) 1974-1977 Michigan

  • Pardoned Nixon after ascending

  • American public never forgave him

  • Lost close 1976 race to relatively unknown southern governor


James E. Carter, Jr.(D) 1977-1981 Georgia

  • Pretended to be a simple peanut farmer

  • Nuclear physicist from Naval Academy

  • Depressing time period:

    • Iran Hostage Crisis

    • Bad economy

    • Disco


Ronald W. Reagan(R) 1981-1989 California

  • Won 1980 race over Carter easily

  • Oversaw period of general prosperity

  • Strong on defense, hardline against USSR

  • Big tax cuts, big spending increases

  • Beginning of massive budget deficits


Ronald W. Reagan(R) 1981-1989 California

  • 1984 – defeated Walter Mondale (Carter’s VP), Dem from MN

  • Mondale argued against deficit

    • He promised to cut spending & raise taxes to balance budget

  • Bad idea when you’re running for office


Ronald W. Reagan(R) 1981-1989 California

  • Largest # of electoral votes ever (525-13)

  • Won 49 of 50 states, only lost MN & DC


George H. W. Bush(R) 1989-1993 Texas

  • Had been Reagan’s VP

  • Easily won 1988 race vs. Michael Dukakis (Dem Gov of MA)


George H. W. Bush(R) 1989-1993 Texas

  • End of Cold War

  • 1st Gulf War

  • Bad recession in 1992

  • Lost close 1992 race to relatively unknown southern governor


William J. Clinton(D) 1993-2001 Arkansas

  • Oversaw period of general prosperity

  • Republican Revolution

    • GOP took control of Congress (1994)

    • 1st time since 1954 GOP controlled the House


William J. Clinton(D) 1993-2001 Arkansas

  • Reelected in 1996 over Sen Bob Dole (R, KS)

  • Ethics problems dogged presidency


William J. Clinton(D) 1993-2001 Arkansas

  • Accused of perjury & obstruction of justice

  • Impeached by HR 1998

  • Acquitted by Sen 1999


2000 Election

  • Bush – GOP Gov of TX

  • Gore – Clinton VP

  • One of closest elections in US history

  • Gore won popular vote

  • Bush won Florida by 537 votes

  • Bush won Electoral vote 271-266


George W. Bush(R) 2001-2009 Texas

  • 9/11 attacks

  • Iraq & Afghanistan

  • Katrina

  • Reelected in 2004 over Sen John Kerry (D, MA)


2008 Election

  • Senator Obama (D, IL)

  • Senator McCain (R, AZ)

  • Obama—1st African American president

  • 1st election since 1952 without sitting POTUS or VP running

  • 1st POTUS election between 2 senators


Barack H. Obama(D) 2009– Illinois

  • TBA


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