There are many historic and interesting campaigns in United States history, so only a few can be covered here. These are some races that stand out as pivotal.
There is often intense competition amongst candidates in a presidential race. This phenomenon is not new. Since 1800, candidates have been hitting each other with slander, rumors, and bad messages. In 1800, this was especially true. The race between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams was vicious. The Federalists persistently attacked Jefferson, saying things such as, “Murder, robbery, rape, adultery, and incest will all be openly taught and practiced.” (Connecticut Courant) Jefferson was said to have cheated and robbed people. Still, Jefferson persisted and managed to win the race. Again in 1804, his competition was fierce. This second race of Jefferson's races was even worse than the first. Rumors were spread about him and his religious beliefs were attacked. But, Jefferson learned from his previous experience, and was able to hold out and win by a landslide.
presidential race of 1840 was between William Harrison and Martin Van
Buren. This was the first campaign to make use of banners, merchandise,
and songs. As a result of this type of campaign advertising, there was
tremendous turn out. Throughout the campaign, Harrison was considered
the underdog. One of the most memorable aspects of this campaigns was
the song, “Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too!” It promoted the candidacy
of William Harrison and his running mate, and was aimed against Martin
Van Buren. The song became popular and well-known, even to this day,
and was published in the Log Cabin Songbook. People everywhere
knew it and sang it. As a result of Harrison’s effective campaign
strategies, he defeated Martin Van Buren by a landslide, receiving 234
electoral votes over Van Buren’s 60. He overcame his initial standing
as the underdog through his effective use of promotions and advertising
to make his name well-known and to defeat Van Buren in an historic race
for the Presidency.
No election showed the power of an underdog as did the election of 1948 in a race between Harry Truman, the underdog incumbent Democratic President and the front-runner, Thomas Dewey, Republican New York State Governor. From the beginning of both Dewey’s and Truman’s campaigns, it was assumed that Dewey would win the presidency because of his three successful terms as the governor of New York and because of Truman’s lack of popularity, with an approval rating of just thirty-six percent. Every single newspaper and all of the major polls in the country indicated that Dewey would win the race. But Truman fought hard, and toured the country by train, in what is referred to as the “Whistlestop Tour,” where he spoke to voters from the rear platform of the train. During Dewey’s campaigning, he talked vaguely and avoided taking a strong position on any issue. Truman on the other hand, took on Dewey in a fiery, verbal attack. Even with the strong campaigning on Truman’s part, many believed Dewey had already won the political race. The polls were mainly done by telephone at that point, and many of Truman’s supporters did not yet even own a telephone, so the polls were inaccurately in favor of Dewey.
the results of the election were even publicized, the Chicago Daily
Tribute early edition issued a paper with the headline, “Dewey
Defeats Truman.” After Truman’s win was posted the Chicago
Daily Tribute quickly tried to recollect their incorrect issues. But
before they were able to do so, Truman took a now
famous photograph holding one of these newspapers.
The race between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon was significant for many reasons. Perhaps most significant was the fact that the first televised debate took place in between these candidates in 1960. There were to be four debates, taking place live on television for the first time from late-September until early-October. This began a period of extensive use of television in campaigns.
The first of the debates had an audience of about 70 million people. Richard Nixon was not knowledgeable when it came to television presentation. He had just been discharged from the hospital, and was not looking his best. He wore a light colored shirt, and on the black and white television, it was not flattering. Nixon looked pale, uncomfortable, and tense. John F. Kennedy, on the other hand, had his image perfectly planned. He appeared relaxed and healthy to the audience of 70 million. Kennedy definitely won “best dressed.”
actuality, the images of the two candidates effected public opinions.
The people who heard the debate on radio felt that Nixon had completely
dominated the debate. On the other hand, the people who watched the
televised debate felt that Kennedy was the logical winner. (Both groups
of people had listened to or seen the same debate.) Most people had
seen the televised debate, and as a result, John F. Kennedy was the
"winner" of the debates and went on the win the election in
2004 presidential campaign was a very controversial campaign. The race
for the presidency was between John Kerry and George W. Bush, who was
up for reelection. It is believed that John Kerry’s campaign was
sabotaged by a group, called the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. The
group had no official links to George W. Bush’s campaign, but
still stood strong against Kerry with false claims. The group claimed
that John Kerry lied about actions in Vietnam that had earned him medals
while he was in the service. Since Kerry had portrayed himself as a
war hero who would be a stable and strong wartime president, the news
did not go over well with the public. The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth
created commercials portraying Kerry as a liar. The advertisements created
doubt in voters’ minds. As soon as well known television news
stations caught wind of the scarce number of advertisements playing,
they were played constantly on well known and well respected news channels.
Within weeks the press released information that the allegations were
false, but Kerry’s campaign could not be saved. The damage was
done, and Kerry’s counter advertisements were too little and too
late. Kerry consequently lost the election to George W. Bush. Too late
to be of assistance to Kerry, the Federal Election Commission found
that the advertisements violated election laws. The Swift Boat Veterans
for Truth were forced to settle with the Federal Election Commission
for $300,000 for violating the laws.