The Charlotte News

Tuesday, November 2, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that millions of Americans were voting in the midterm elections this date to decide which party would control each house of the 84th Congress, with initial reports indicating that neither party had reason for concern regarding voter apathy, which both had feared prior to election day. Fragmentary early surveys showed heavy voter turnout, but that was not necessarily attributable to the efforts of both the President and Adlai Stevenson, and the other respective party leaders, having engaged in a get-out-the-vote campaign in the 11th hour. There was a heavier turnout than anticipated in Eastern population centers of the country and the trend appeared to be running across the country. Despite rain and cold weather, New York City districts, Manhattan and the Bronx, had recorded 30 percent of the registered voters casting their ballots by 11:00 a.m. In Brooklyn, voting had begun slowly, but picked up pace later in the morning. In the Maryland and Virginia suburbs of Washington, voter turnout was said to be extremely heavy, with the 10th Virginia Congressional district, just across the Potomac, indicating that early balloting was much heavier than normal for a midterm election. In the Baltimore metropolitan district, election officials described the vote as "unexpectedly heavy".

In Columbia, S.C., the Senate race between State Senator Edgar Brown, the Democratic Party nominee who had been named by the party's executive committee to replace deceased Senator Burnet Maybank, who had died in September, too late to hold a primary, was being contested on a write-in basis by former Governor Strom Thurmond. The South Carolina Secretary of State had guessed that not more than 200,000 voters would vote in the election, though it was the first time that a formidable write-in vote would take place in a statewide race.

In North Carolina, the continuing dispute regarding voter registration and absentee ballots in the ninth Congressional District, resulting in a challenge of between 10,000 and 14,000 registered voters in that district by the Republican Party, was seen by former state Democratic chairman B. Everett Jordan, future Senator, as being "something of a coincidence", coming right at the time the polls were set to open for the voting. A staff member of the House Campaign Investigations Committee had made the charge the previous night in Washington that the local election boards in the district were "absolutely defiant of the law" because they had refused to allow him to see absentee voter applications on the same day the State Election Board had stated that those records were public property, of which decision election officials had claimed ignorance. That staff member had investigated Republican complaints and said he had been "intimidated as to my further Federal employment" by Democratic sources since he had returned to Washington on Sunday, telling him, he contended, that they would seek to block his future employment in Washington. He declined to name who had intimidated him, but said that he had reported the incident to the FBI. Mr. Jordan said that he did not know what credentials the staff member had presented, but that any election official would be justified in demanding proof of proper authority before opening the books to anyone from Washington who asked to see them. He found it "fantastic" that the Republicans would seek to challenge 14,000 voters in one district, that he had never heard of such a thing. The Committee had instructed all county election boards in the district to impound the absentee ballots and related records after the election.

In Boone, N.C., it was reported that snow was falling in the western part of the state, and the state Republican secretary said that the weather would hurt Republicans in the ninth Congressional district race, predicting that voter turnout would be about 15,000 less than pre-election estimates. He said that early in the afternoon in Boone, there were "near blizzard" conditions, with four to five inches of snow on the ground, and the snow continuing.

Snowfall ranging up to eight inches had halted travel at higher elevations in the western part of the state early this date, as the Weather Bureau predicted more snow and subfreezing temperatures for Asheville. A half-inch of snow had fallen in Asheville the previous night, and it was predicted that more than four inches would be recorded this date, amid low temperatures of between 18 and 24 degrees. The Blue Ridge Parkway was closed all the way to Roanoke, Va., early this date and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was virtually snowed in. The highway across Newfound Gap was impassable even with chains, according to officials at Park headquarters at Gatlinburg, Tenn.

But the question is what was contained within the Gap before it was snowed over at the passage over the River and into the Woods on the Uher.

In Waynesville, N.C., it was reported that the Cataloochee precinct in the Great Smoky Mountains had reported all seven of its registered voters to have cast Democratic ballots during the morning, the first western North Carolina precinct to report.

Julian Scheer of The News reports that in Mecklenburg County, voters had turned out heavily in the early hours but inclement weather and off-year trends had counterbalanced the voting by around noon, though it appeared there would be a record set in the county for off-year voting, possibly amounting to a turnout of about 35,000 voters out of nearly 88,000 registered voters, of whom more than 12 percent, or more than 10,000, had already voted by noon. The race between Congressman Charles Jonas and his Democratic challenger, Recorder's Court Judge J. C. Sedberry, was credited with the higher than usual turnout. Drizzling rain had depressed turnout in the first two hours of voting, but it had picked up later.

At precinct 17 in Charlotte, in Firemen's Hall, it was so cold that a kerosene stove was lit by the registrar to warm the drafty hall, used to practice firefighting, but the smoke soon quickly overtook the place and firemen had to rush to the aid of the registrar, providing an electric heater instead, enabling relative comfort the remainder of the morning, even if amid a smoky odor.

In Raleigh, Superior Court Judge W. C. Harris, 68, who had retired a month earlier, died at a hospital early this date. He had been in poor health for some time and had undergone surgery twice for a throat ailment during the previous year. He had served on the Superior Court for more than 27 years and was the most senior judge of the court at the time of his retirement. He had been elected to the Raleigh City Court in 1912, serving in that capacity until 1927, when he became a Superior Court judge. He had been a leader in the movement resulting in the establishment in 1937 of a State Probation Commission, and had served on that Commission until several years earlier.

On the editorial page, "The Crystal Ball Is Often Clouded" indicates that many major public opinion pollsters, such as Elmo Roper, shied away from national forecasts in midterm elections, as there were too many unknown factors to be considered, voter apathy, those who switched from one party to the other, and Democrats this year who were switching back after voting for President Eisenhower in 1952. But there had been independent political analysis and numerous polls taken, with the results giving Democrats the edge, at least in the House, and to a lesser extent, in the Senate.

The best prediction of the 1946 midterm elections had come from Republican campaign chairman Clarence Brown, who said on election eve that within the ensuing 24 hours, there would be elected a Republican Congress, which turned out to be correct, with the Republicans picking up a dozen Senate seats and 55 House seats for the 80th Congress. The News provided an editorial on election day that year, titled, "It Looks Like the GOP's Day".

But then in 1948, despite the predictions of an easy win in the presidential race by Governor Thomas Dewey, President Truman had won re-election, and the Democrats had regained control of both houses of Congress.

In the 1950 midterm elections, the political pollsters were naturally skittish and even party bosses refrained from expressing much optimism, with modest Republican gains being predicted by Republican campaign heads and the only Gallup Poll showing that 43 percent of the people favored the Democrats and 42 percent, the Republicans, with only President Truman predicting a landslide for Democrats. Practically everyone had been more or less wrong, as Republicans scored a larger victory than they had expected, with 52 percent of the total vote going to Republican candidates and only 42 percent to Democrats, enabling Republicans to come within two seats of capturing the Senate and substantially reducing the Fair Deal majority in the House.

In 1952, General Eisenhower had been elected easily, but the Republicans had won both houses of Congress by only small margins, with the General carrying 76 more Congressional districts than had the Republicans.

It finds that the lesson in that history was clear, that no politician or political party had the American voters in their pockets, that the voter was in charge.

"Random Thoughts on Tonight's Show" provides some random observations on elections which might make the evening results more interesting to the viewer or listener. It indicates that key House districts were in Hartford, Connecticut, and that the gubernatorial race in that state would provide some indication of trends, as would the Congressional race in Philadelphia, the 10th district race in Virginia, bordering Washington, and the fifth district race in Maryland, all of those to be among the first districts to report results. Joseph McCaffrey, Washington political analyst, believed that any trend from the returns would be shown in those four areas.

Many Northern Democrats would not vote a straight ticket as Southerners tended to do, with Northern Democrats refusing to support someone they believed belonged in the Republican camp, causing conservative Democrats not to get elected. It observes that it was one of the reasons why Northern Democrats did not suffer from a split personality as did Southern Democrats.

Louis Bean, who was one of the few pundits who had forecast the victory of former President Truman in 1948, had written in Sunday's New York Times Magazine that the 1954 election was essentially about the pocketbook, despite a strong effort by the Republicans to convert it emotionally into the equivalent of a presidential election, that there was some unemployment, concentrated mainly in the Northeastern quarter of the country, where many of the marginal seats were located, and there was also farmer dissatisfaction because of lower farm income, concluding that the basic underlying fact was that more people considered the Democrats to be the party of the underdog groups and the Republicans to be the party of business.

It finds that Mr. Bean appeared to be suggesting that the Democrats had the edge, which was what nearly everyone, except Republicans, were saying, although some, such as the Alsops, had been stating in recent days that a big Democratic sweep was no longer necessarily going to happen. It says that it was not in the mood to stick its neck out, until around midnight, and then only to get a whiff of the air while still awaiting returns from the West.

"Expensive" indicates that Republicans, dedicated to economy and government, apparently had no scruples about spending in political campaigns, as through October 15, the RNC had spent a little over 1.2 million dollars, $183,000 more than the Democrats. It reminded, it indicates, of what Will Rogers had once said: "Politics has got so expensive that it takes lots of money to even get beat with."

A piece from the Birmingham News, titled "Air Conditioning for Hogs", indicates that air-conditioning for hogs was now being discussed, with some investigators in the animal husbandry department of the University of California having made experiments which showed conclusively that pigs got along better when the weather was not too hot or too cold. Hogs gained the most weight when the temperature was maintained at 70 degrees, with more food being required to add weight if the temperature rose above or dropped below that figure.

It indicates it did not know what the farmers were going to do with those facts, but that if it could be proved that air-conditioning was a matter of profits, it might be expected that the old sty would be modernized to accommodate the better temperature for the animals. But as for human beings, most of them did not wish to put on weight.

Drew Pearson indicates that regardless of the outcome of this date's midterm elections, it would probably decide three important political questions, whether the President would run for a second term in 1956, whether Vice-President Nixon, at age 41, who had "managed to worm himself into a position of power and influence despite that $18,000 private expense fund" two years earlier, the "Checkers" episode, would be able to succeed the President, and whether the Republicans would be able to continue to use McCarthy-type politics without using the Senator, himself, particularly whether they could manage to get a large bloc of Catholic voters, who normally voted Democratic, to vote Republican without the use of Senator McCarthy.

The success of the election would depend in large part on the tactics of Mr. Nixon, as he, more than any other person in the Republican Party, had been drafting the strategy and calling the shots of the present campaign, even more so than RNC chairman Leonard Hall. Mr. Nixon had been on the phone to state leaders, had thrown extra speakers into key states and almost tearfully had demanded that the President campaign. For he well knew that if the Republicans lost on this date, his future had "gone glimmering". Mr. Nixon had made the crucial decision to use the tactics of Senator McCarthy in the campaign, after bluntly informing the President that the public was not interested in the Administration's legislative program and needed a gripping, headline-making issue. That was so despite the President having earlier in the year stated repeatedly that the election should not be decided on issues related to Communism, but rather on the accomplishments of the Administration.

Mr. Pearson concludes that to be fair to Mr. Nixon, it should be noted that he did not steal the tactic from Senator McCarthy, as he had used it himself to get elected to Congress from California in 1946, facing incumbent Congressman Jerry Voorhis, a liberal, organizing a battery of telephone women who did nothing except to call voters anonymously and ask whether they knew that Congressman Voorhees was a Communist. Though unknown at the time in California, and only 33 years old, Mr. Nixon had won that election.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop indicate that they had found that there was some evidence of a payoff from the last minute Republican campaigning which could translate into positive results this date in the midterm elections. The Alsops had conducted studies in ten key states two months prior to the election, talking to local experts on their views, and had now followed up by telephone with those same experts, finding some interesting surprises, as in Kentucky and West Virginia.

In Kentucky, former Vice-President Alben Barkley had earlier been considered a shoo-in over incumbent Senator John Sherman Cooper, but the latter had staged a "miraculous campaign", attracting large crowds, and they find it possible that he might pull off the miracle and win the race.

In West Virginia, the earlier judgment had been that Senator Matthew Neely would be an easy winner, but challenger Tom Sweeney had been stressing the peace issue, and Mr. Neely's age was hurting him, so did not have the election any longer in the bag.

In Ohio, the earlier judgment had been that the election was a tossup between incumbent interim Senator Thomas Burke and Congressman George Bender, but now Mr. Bender appeared to have the edge.

In Michigan, the former judgment had been that the Republicans did not have a chance to win the gubernatorial race against incumbent Governor G. Mennen Williams or the Senate race, with incumbent Senator Homer Ferguson running scared, but now Senator Ferguson appeared to be in good shape and the Republicans were even talking about the possibility of beating Governor Williams.

In Minnesota, the previous judgment had been that incumbent Senator Hubert Humphrey would easily win re-election, but that the Republicans should win the gubernatorial race with Elmer Anderson, whereas now Senator Humphrey still appeared poised to win easily, but Democrat Orville Freeman, future Secretary of Agriculture under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, was gaining in the gubernatorial race.

In Illinois, the previous judgment had been that incumbent Senator Paul Douglas would easily win, and now the judgment was that he remained ahead but that opponent Joe Meek was gaining, and that registration was off 220,000 in Chicago while suburban registration had increased by over 50,000, conditions which could negatively impact Senator Douglas.

In New Jersey, the previous judgment had been that former Congressman Clifford Case was the victim of circumstances, whereas now his opponent had a big lead, and with unemployment and the Republican organization in Bergen County in ruins, it was hard to see how Mr. Case could win, but he yet might pull it out.

In Wisconsin, the previous judgment had been that the Republicans appeared to be in worse shape than in 1952, that Governor Walter Kohler, Jr., could lose re-election to William Proxmire, future Senator, and that more than one Congressional seat was doubtful, whereas now, the Republicans were running on the theme, "Do you want your son in battle to get higher prices for your cattle?" And it appeared to be working with the dairy farmers, but the junior version of Senator McCarthy, Charles Kersten, still appeared to be a loser in his bid for re-election to Congress.

In Iowa, previously it had appeared that Senator Guy Gillette would win, and it still appeared that way, but the Alsops continue not to understand why.

In New York, the previous judgment had been that the polls had already elected Averell Harriman in the gubernatorial race, whereas now the last minute blitz by Governor Dewey and gubernatorial opponent Senator Irving Ives had put the race in doubt, but they still conclude that Mr. Harriman would likely win.

Eric Sevareid, from a CBS newscast, indicates that no political campaign appeared to be complete without "conspiracies, myths and invisible demons". To some Republicans of New Jersey who opposed their own party's nominee, Clifford Case, the Americans for Democratic Action meant socialism or something worse, and to Vice-President Nixon during his stump tour, it was a "wing" of the Democratic Party whose anti-Communism was suspect. The Boston Post had essentially labeled the ADA a threat to mother, home and flag, such that the newspaper editorially threatened every local candidate with attack unless the person publicly repudiated ADA. Meanwhile, most voters did not know what ADA was and nobody was bothering to tell them, while the people who ran ADA showed signs of apoplexy.

Mr. Severeid explains that ADA had 45,000 members in 120 local chapters, but remained small and weak as political action groups went, even after seven years of work. It generally approved of local candidates through its local chapters, regardless of whether the endorsement harmed the candidate, and endorsed Republicans as well as Democrats. It had qualified both Mr. Case and his opponent, Congressman Charles Howell, in New Jersey, as well as Congressman Jacob Javits and Congressman Franklin Roosevelt, Jr., in the race for New York attorney general. In Massachusetts, it endorsed neither candidate, incumbent Senator Leverett Saltonstall or his opponent. In Chicago city races, it endorsed more Republicans than Democrats. It looked for liberals, despite condemnation of the word by editorial writers who often put it between quotation marks.

Mr. Sevareid finds it questionable whether ADA could be called a "wing" of the Democratic Party, rather perhaps only one feather in a wing. All of the organization's national officers and its board were Democrats, with the exception of independent Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon, and it endorsed generally more Democratic candidates than Republicans. That affinity had disappointed some of its early backers and made its bipartisanship more hypothetical than real.

But whether it was effective or not was less important than the questions raised on the hustings regarding its patriotism and its stand on Communism, and the organization deserved to be heard on both points before a political myth was created about it. The organization was not only non-Communist, but so strongly so that a new member not only had to be approved but was required to sign what amounted to a loyalty oath, and the largest single reason for its creation seven years earlier had been to break up the game of Communists in confusing liberalism with Communism and infiltrating liberal groups, to provide traditional American liberals a clearly anti-Communist organization.

ADA had fought the Progressive movement which had nominated former Vice-President Henry Wallace as its presidential candidate in 1948, and one of the reasons why ADA had been formed in 1947 was to enable liberals who had been hoodwinked by that latter movement to see what was going on, with the Communist infiltration of the Progressive Party. Among the founders were David Dubinsky, Walter Reuther and James Carey, men who had taken the lead in driving Communists from the unions. The Communists had been aware of the threat the ADA posed to their tactics of confusion and infiltration, and Mr. Severeid recounts that he had covered one of the original organizational meetings of ADA and recalled that Communist hecklers sought to stop it before it could begin. Since that time, the Daily Worker had attacked ADA continuously, and ADA's attacks on Communist policies and tactics, both domestically and internationally, had been equally unrelenting.

A letter writer takes exception to a Duke Power Co. advertisement of October 30, 1954, which had suggested that Salem was on the other side of the Yadkin River from Winston when President Washington had spent the night in Salem, correcting that Salem was conjoined to Winston by an imaginary line down First Street and that the Yadkin was at least 15 miles away from the closest city limit of either of the two towns. He also finds that a sketch of Home Moravian Church in Old Salem had been reversed from its actual perspective.

What do you expect from an ad, probably dreamed up on Madison Avenue in New York? Be thankful they did not spell it "Winsen-Sal'm", which is the way some locals pronounce it.

A letter writer from Lincolnton indicates intent to reply to several letters published by a man from Charlotte, who had attacked the Republicans as being for big business and then said that business was so bad that people were getting only three or four days of work per week, and then that big businesses were going broke because they could not make any money. He contended that big oil was growing fat off of the Republicans, and this writer wants to know if former President Truman had been a Republican. He recalls that the UMW had gone on strike regularly during the Truman Administration, forcing the price of coal up, until the people had to convert to oil. He thinks the writer had been disturbed to find so many nice people planning to vote for Congressman Charles Jonas, says that he was glad that the prior writer was able to recognize such a nice person.

A letter writer from Long Shoals indicates that television appeared to be the best medium at present to provide all of the facts, rather than newspapers or radio, as one got only what the reporter interpreted from the speech of a public figure or what the radio commentator thought, whereas television enabled the viewer to look the politician in the eye and listen to all which he had to say. He believes that the Democratic prosperity had been produced by war and that a strong two-party system got the most benefits to the people, as evidenced by the Piedmont area of North Carolina.

A letter writer indicates that "the blunt anti-segregation decree was handed down to us by Democratic judges of the ultra-smart New Deal national Democratic Party." He thinks the best way to decide how to vote was to judge the spirit of the leading men of a party. He thinks that the nation was much safer with the "Eisenhower crowd" than with the "Truman crowd".

Does that include Chief Justice Earl Warren?

A letter writer indicates that if the Methodist Church of North Carolina, as it had, endorsed the Brown v. Board of Education decision and favored ending of segregation in the public schools, it was high time for the church to open its doors to blacks and all other colored peoples. But he had heard nothing from the Methodist Church or any of its pastors welcoming blacks into the white churches of the state. He wonders how citizens could expect their children to integrate with other races in the public schools when generally the adults did not welcome other races into their midst. He thinks it would have been better for the Methodists to have remained silent on the subject unless they were committed to welcoming blacks into the white churches.

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