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1956: Eisenhower re-elected with record vote

General Dwight D Eisenhower has been returned to the White House with the biggest Republican win since Abraham Lincoln's in 1860.

President Eisenhower won 58% of the popular vote, up 3% from 1952.

He amassed some 34 million votes, winning 41 states and 457 electoral college votes.

His opponent Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson totalled around 27 million votes, securing seven states and 74 electoral college votes.

The Democrats have won majorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate, making General Eisenhower the first president-elect ever to face a Congress controlled by the opposition.

Tonight President Eisenhower and Vice-President Richard Nixon were greeted by elated supporters at Republican headquarters.


Having already conceded victory to President Eisenhower in 1952, Governor Stevenson accepted this year's result with customary magnanimity saying,

"There are things more precious than a political victory; there is the right to political contest ... as for me, let there be no tears."

The Republicans have retained the support they gained four years ago from the traditionally Democratic South while Stevenson won just seven states in the region.

Commentators suggest that voters did a significant amount of "ticket splitting", choosing Eisenhower as president because he is more popular than Stevenson but sending more Democrats to Congress because of their "caring" economic and social welfare policies.

The key electoral issues included the economy, international affairs and occasionally the president's ill health.

Throughout the campaign, Mr Stevenson focused on Mr Eisenhower's recent heart attack and abdominal operation to suggest he was unfit for office.

The Democratic candidate also tried to present the opposition as a party of big business that ignored high inflation and pockets of poverty.

This tactic failed to dampen the widespread feel good factor among American voters.

Similarly, Mr Stevenson's promises to end H-bomb tests and military drafting did little to inspire the public's confidence in his foreign policies.

In contrast, General Eisenhower's election slogan "prosperity and peace" proved to be a vote winner.

Mr Eisenhower's status as a former World War II hero and international statesman also gave him an advantage on the foreign affairs front.

The landslide result suggests that the electorate support his policy of "non-involvement" in the recent Middle Eastern and Central European crises.

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Dwight D Eisenhower and Richard Nixon celebrate with their wives
The president and his vice-president celebrated at Republican headquarters

In Context
Eisenhower's domestic policies included encouraging business through tax cuts, decreasing federal control of the economy and implementing social welfare programmes.

He sped up defence spending after the Russians launched Sputnik, the first man made satellite in 1957.

Eisenhower sponsored a landmark civil rights bill 1956 and in 1957 he used federal troops to squash segregationist violence in Arkansas.

Hopes of reaching agreement on nuclear disarmament with Russia faded after the Soviets shot down an American U-2 spy plane over their territory.

The General found peaceful solutions to clashes with Communist China over Taiwan (in 1955 & 1958) and with the Soviets over Berlin (in 1959).

A constitutional amendment prevented Eisenhower from running for a third term.

He left office in 1961 and died in 1969 after a long illness.

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