1928 United States presidential election in Alabama

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United States presidential election in Alabama, 1928

← 1924 November 6, 1928 1932 →
  AlfredSmith.png Herbert Hoover - NARA - 532049.tif
Nominee Al Smith Herbert Hoover
Party Democratic Republican
Home state New York California
Running mate Joseph T. Robinson Charles Curtis
Electoral vote 12 0
Popular vote 127,797 120,753
Percentage 51.33% 48.50%

Alabama Presidential Election Results by County, 1928.svg
County Results

President before election

Calvin Coolidge
Republican

Elected President

Herbert Hoover
Republican

The 1928 United States presidential election in Alabama took place on November 6, 1928, as part of the 1928 United States presidential election, which was held throughout all contemporary forty-eight states. Voters chose twelve representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president. This was the last election in which Alabama had twelve electoral votes: the Great Migration caused the state to lose congressional districts after the 1930 Census produced the first Congressional redistricting since 1911.

Alabama voted narrowly for the Democratic nominee, Governor Alfred E. Smith of New York, over the Republican nominee, Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover of California. Smith's running mate was Senator Joseph Taylor Robinson of Arkansas, while Hoover's running mate was Senate Majority Leader Charles Curtis of Kansas. The only other candidate on the ballot was Socialist Norman Thomas, who received a mere four hundred and sixty votes.[1]

Background[edit]

Since the 1890s, Alabama had become a one-party state ruled by the Democratic Party. Disenfranchisement of almost all African-Americans and a large proportion of poor whites via poll taxes, literacy tests[2] and informal harassment had essentially eliminated opposition parties outside of presidential campaigns in a few northern hill counties. The only competitive statewide elections became Democratic Party primaries, and ever since 1900 the Democratic Party won over two-thirds of the limited number of votes cast even in presidential elections.

Between 1900 and 1924, the southern bloc had been able to veto presidential nominations by extralimital branches of the Democratic Party. This changed before the 1928 election, as most Democrats decided to sit out the convention due to their belief the party had no chance of winning the November election.[3] Consequently, Al Smith, a four-term Governor of New York, was able to win the nomination on the first ballot.

A bitter fight[edit]

Four characteristics of Smith made him anything but an ideal candidate for Southern Democrats: he was a devout Catholic, opposed to Prohibition, linked with New York City's Tammany Hall political machine, and the son of Irish and Italian immigrants. Whilst it is generally thought that the South would have accepted a man possessing one of those characteristics,[4] the combination proved a bitter dose for many of Alabama's loyal Democrats. It was also thought by some, including those close to the revived Ku Klux Klan, that Smith was too friendly with blacks[5] and some Alabama whites unsubtly called Smith "nigger, nigger, nigger".[6] Nonetheless, these people did not think Hoover any safer on the race issue, although they did prefer Hoover's view on Prohibition.[7]

The conflict between disapproval of Smith's faith and policies on one hand and extreme traditional hostility towards the Republican Party in almost all of Alabama (the only exceptions being the historically anti-secession counties of Winston and a few populist strongholds like Chilton) produced an exceptionally bitter campaign.[8] Black Belt whites – who had controlled the state government since disenfranchisement of blacks and poor whites – also felt Smith's social views obnoxious, especially his opposition to the Ku Klux Klan.

Consequently, many of Alabama's voters swore to vote for Hoover without declaring themselves Republicans, instead calling themselves "Hoovercrats" (a portmanteau of "Hoover" and "Democrat").[8] Defections were particularly pronounced in North Alabama, where a contiguous block of counties from Birmingham northeastwards to the Tennessee border uniformly gave majorities for Hoover. Hoover also won a number of counties in the far southern coastal regions, whose soils had always proved unsuitable for cotton plantations.[9] On the other hand, the whites of the black belt, who were like Al Smith "wet" (opposed to prohibition of alcohol), did not bolt form the Democratic Party because of this alcohol issue and their strong view that the Democrats were the best safeguard for white supremacy.[10]

Overall, Smith held the state by just over seven thousand votes, although opponents of Smith believed that electoral fraud was widespread in the black belt. State judges Hugh Locke, Horace Wilkinson and Ira Champion argued that up to seventeen thousand ballots for Hoover had been rejected.[11] No recount, however, was ever contemplated by authorities. This result constitutes the second-closest presidential election in Alabama since Reconstruction behind that of 1980, another Republican landslide this time affected by the personal vote in the South for Jimmy Carter.

A strong correlation was revealed between percentage of blacks in the population and (white) voter loyalty to the Democratic Party: of the twenty-six counties won by Hoover, only five had population over thirty percent Negro, and most of these were urban area less attached to the traditions of black belt politics, whilst Chambers County was the home of Hoovercrat senator J. Thomas Heflin.[12] At the other extreme, of the ten counties possessing populations under ten percent Negro in 1930,[13][a] only Marion County stayed loyal to Smith.

Results[edit]

United States presidential election in Alabama, 1928[1]
Party Candidate Votes Percentage Electoral votes
Democratic Alfred E. Smith 127,797 51.33% 12
Republican Herbert Hoover 120,753 48.50% 0
Socialist Norman Thomas 460 0.18% 0
Voter turnout (Voting age) 18.8%[14]

Results by county[edit]

County Smith# Smith% Hoover# Hoover% Thomas# Thomas% Total votes[15]
Autauga 883 56.39% 683 43.61% 0 0.00% 1,566
Baldwin 1,317 48.44% 1,388 51.05% 14 0.51% 2,719
Barbour 1507 63.48% 845 35.59% 23 0.97% 2374
Bibb 1,188 54.02% 1,003 45.61% 8 0.36% 2,199
Blount 1,607 47.94% 1,745 52.06% 0 0.00% 3,352
Bullock 699 73.73% 249 26.27% 0 0.00% 948
Butler 1,235 63.86% 699 36.14% 0 0.00% 1,934
Calhoun 2,117 45.48% 2,537 54.50% 1 0.02% 4,655
Chambers 999 36.58% 1,732 63.42% 0 0.00% 2,731
Cherokee 894 37.05% 1,515 62.78% 4 0.17% 2,413
Chilton 1,402 30.52% 3,186 69.37% 5 0.11% 4,593
Choctaw 1242 74.33% 429 25.67% 0 0.00% 1671
Clarke 1,662 63.97% 936 36.03% 0 0.00% 2,598
Clay 978 34.10% 1,889 65.86% 1 0.03% 2,868
Cleburne 794 41.75% 1,108 58.25% 0 0.00% 1,902
Coffee 1,609 60.83% 1,036 39.17% 0 0.00% 2,645
Colbert 2,596 65.75% 1,249 31.64% 103 2.61% 3,948
Conecuh 858 43.53% 1,113 56.47% 0 0.00% 1,971
Coosa 699 39.31% 1,078 60.63% 1 0.06% 1,778
Covington 2,000 54.26% 1,681 45.60% 5 0.14% 3,686
Crenshaw 1,314 57.33% 978 42.67% 0 0.00% 2,292
Cullman 1,574 34.72% 2,959 65.28% 0 0.00% 4,533
Dale 1,233 55.19% 1,000 44.76% 1 0.04% 2,234
Dallas 1,905 72.96% 705 27.00% 1 0.04% 2,611
DeKalb 3,957 40.71% 5,761 59.27% 2 0.02% 9,720
Elmore 1,309 42.49% 1,770 57.45% 2 0.06% 3,081
Escambia 1,077 38.03% 1,754 61.94% 1 0.04% 2,832
Etowah 2,484 43.70% 3,162 55.63% 38 0.67% 5,684
Fayette 1,131 40.13% 1,686 59.83% 1 0.04% 2818
Franklin 2,279 43.64% 2,937 56.24% 6 0.11% 5,222
Geneva 1,485 49.20% 1,533 50.80% 0 0.00% 3,018
Greene 601 93.91% 39 6.09% 0 0.00% 640
Hale 1,048 72.23% 403 27.77% 0 0.00% 1,451
Henry 815 50.53% 796 49.35% 2 0.12% 1,613
Houston 2,290 53.81% 1,963 46.12% 3 0.07% 4,256
Jackson 2,153 41.03% 3,081 58.72% 13 0.25% 5,247
Jefferson 16,735 47.94% 18,060 51.74% 112 0.32% 34,907
Lamar 1,412 63.72% 804 36.28% 0 0.00% 2,216
Lauderdale 2,763 67.82% 1,410 34.61% 1 0.02% 4,074
Lawrence 1,035 50.59% 1,008 49.27% 3 0.15% 2,046
Lee 1,436 58.97% 1,016 41.72% 3 0.12% 2,435
Limestone 1,689 80.58% 407 19.42% 0 0.00% 2,096
Lowndes 703 79.61% 180 20.39% 0 0.00% 883
Macon 526 59.98% 348 39.68% 3 0.34% 877
Madison 2,681 49.85% 2,695 50.11% 2 0.04% 5,378
Marengo 1,898 71.62% 752 28.38% 0 0.00% 2,650
Marion 1,541 50.87% 1,488 49.13% 0 0.00% 3,029
Marshall 2,322 47.94% 2,511 51.84% 11 0.23% 4,844
Mobile 5,965 54.07% 5,058 45.84% 10 0.09% 11,033
Monroe 1,343 57.22% 1,074 45.76% 0 0.00% 2,347
Montgomery 6,347 67.06% 3,114 32.90% 3 0.03% 9,464
Morgan 3,366 45.12% 4,085 54.76% 9 0.12% 7,460
Perry 1,242 72.97% 459 26.97% 1 0.06% 1,702
Pickens 1,028 61.85% 634 38.15% 0 0.00% 1,662
Pike 1,819 76.59% 552 23.24% 4 0.17% 2,375
Randolph 1,257 40.89% 1,815 59.04% 2 0.07% 3,074
Russell 846 70.68% 333 27.82% 18 1.50% 1,197
St. Clair 1,313 33.70% 2,581 66.25% 2 0.05% 3,896
Shelby 1,679 39.95% 2,502 59.53% 22 0.52% 4,203
Sumter 1,015 84.16% 191 15.84% 0 0.00% 1,206
Talladega 1,693 51.18% 1,602 48.43% 13 0.39% 3,308
Tallapoosa 1,849 59.51% 1,257 40.46% 1 0.03% 3,107
Tuscaloosa 2,769 69.56% 1,210 30.39% 2 0.05% 3,981
Walker 4,228 53.77% 3,635 46.23% 0 0.00% 7,863
Washington 718 58.18% 515 41.73% 1 0.08% 1,234
Wilcox 979 78.57% 266 21.35% 1 0.08% 1,246
Winston 659 24.01% 2,085 75.96% 1 0.04% 2,745
Totals 127,797 51.33% 120,753 48.50% 460 0.18% 248,982

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections; 1928 Presidential General Election Results – Alabama
  2. ^ Perman, Michael; Struggle for Mastery: Disfranchisement in the South, 1888–1908, Chapel Hill: North Carolina Press, 2001, Introduction
  3. ^ Paulson, Arthur C.; Electoral Realignment and the Outlook for American Democracy; p. 61 ISBN 1555536670
  4. ^ Kennedy; David M. and Cohen, Lizabeth; The American Pageant, Volume 2, p. 739 ISBN 1111831432
  5. ^ Rappleye; Charles; Herbert Hoover in the White House: The Ordeal of the Presidency, p. 39 ISBN 1451648677
  6. ^ Feldman, Glenn; Before Brown: Civil Rights and White Backlash in the Modern South; p. 270 ISBN 0817351345
  7. ^ Feldman, Glenn; Politics, Society, and the Klan in Alabama, 1915-1949; p. 190 ISBN 0817309845
  8. ^ a b Feldman; Politics, Society and the Klan in Alabama; p. 168
  9. ^ Key, V.O. junior; Southern Politics in State and Nation; p. 328 ISBN 087049435X
  10. ^ Key; Southern Politics in State and Nation; p. 234, 319
  11. ^ Helm, William P. (junior); 'Smith Foes Want Alabama Recount: Assert Southern "Stronghold" Went for Hoover; To Ask Congressional Action – Fraud Evidence Claimed'; The Washington Post, December 12, 1928, p. 2
  12. ^ Key; Southern Politics in State and Nation; p. 324
  13. ^ Bunche, Ralph J.; The Political Status of the Negro in the Age of FDR, p. 65 ISBN 0226080285
  14. ^ Gans, Curtis and Mulling, Matthew; Voter Turnout in the United States, 1788-2009, p. 383 ISBN 9781604265958
  15. ^ Scammon, Richard M. (compiler); America at the Polls: A Handbook of Presidential Election Statistics 1920-1964; pp. 27-28 ISBN 0405077114

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Alabama counties with a 1930 population less than ten percent Negro were Blount, Cherokee, Cleburne, Cullman, DeKalb, Franklin, Jackson, Marion, Marshall and Winston. Cleburne, DeKalb, Franklin and Winston had voted for Calvin Coolidge in 1924, whilst all these four plus Cullman voted for Warren G. Harding in 1920.