||Stevenson Mounts Another Challenge|
1956: We Still Like Ike
In the 1956 campaign, Eisenhower
did little campaigning because the country was happy. Ike allowed the
press enormous access. Robert Montgomery, who was an actor, put on
Eisenhower’s staff for that reason, polished the presidential image. One
key to success was that a public relations person for the campaign, before
release, screened all film takes. The 1956 campaign was a repeat of the
1952 campaign with family being a key element and religion a bulwark against
communist threats. The Republicans continued to capitalize on both of
these themes. Ike and Dick were presented as religious, God-fearing men
while Adlai Stevenson was a Unitarian, which most Americans knew nothing about.
Stevenson hoped to capitalize on the success of the Congress by employing both state and local organizations to aid in the campaign with the thought of a coat tails strategy. Stevenson spent much of the campaign traveling more than 37,000 miles, visiting 32 different states often accusing Eisenhower of being a “part-time” President. The Democrats used Edward R. Morrow to try to aid Stevenson in his comfort and aptitude for televised events, but he proved immune to the teaching of Morrow and continued to do poorly on television. Stevenson promised a “New America” where freedom is made real for all without regard to race, beliefs, or economic condition “basically saying that the Republicans had benefits the rich and not the average American.” In the 1956 campaign, gone was Stevenson's advantage of having more political experience that Eisenhower.
A major factor in this campaign was the funds raised by the parties. The Republicans had over 5 million dollars in the bank, whereas the Democrats had a mere 100,000. The campaign of 1956 found a vast change in political broadcasts. The once dominating half hour spots were replaced with five minute spot ads, instead of preempting scheduled programming as before, it was more like sponsored commercials during the program. The major effort of the Democrats was in attacking Vice President Nixon by asking the public, "Were they ready for him to be the President because of the failing health of President Eisenhower?" The Republicans countered this attack with Ike doing more public appearances, letting the public see that he looked good and was strong enough to carry on at his present job. Another issue the Democrats tried to use against Eisenhower was his handling of the Suez and Hungary events internationally, but again it backfired, only making Ike’s decision seem to be better to the voting public. The Democrats even brought out Eleanor Roosevelt to aid the fight against Ike hoping she could reach those females who voted Ike in four years earlier, but again it was an unsuccessful attempt. The Republicans slogan of “Peace, Prosperity, and Progress” defeated the Democrats “New America” because of the current peace and prosperity there was no need for a new America. The voting public still “Liked Ike” and was not about to vote against the man in the White House. Again, he won by a landslide. It was the biggest victory since FDR, with Eisenhower receiving 457 electoral votes to Stevenson 73, but ironically, the Democrats kept control of the Congress.