Stand Up and Be Counted!
Every four years, Post illustrators got another chance to capture the nation’s fascination with presidential politics. Below we discover a vacillating voter who’s still unsure which lever to pull even at his moment of reckoning. In 1944, opinion polls gave FDR 53.4 percent of the vote and Thomas Dewey 45.9 percent, making Rockwell’s indecisive milquetoast a decidedly rare animal.
In 1936, when Candidate Voting (below) was painted, mechanical voting booths were in use in every major American city, but in rural areas votes were still hand-counted. In fact, as recently as 2012, 4 percent of votes were still counted manually.
On Election Day 1920, just months after passage of the 19th Amendment, more than 8 million women headed to the polls. Opponents of women’s suffrage argued that female voters would ignore the real issues of the day and simply cast their vote for the better-looking candidate, a concern expressed here in the way our voter carefully studies the handsome younger candidate’s features.
Winners and Losers
Was married life simpler before 1920, when only men could vote? Once women had a voice, political differences certainly added to points of contention in relationships.
A widespread fear was that newly enfranchised women would vote in a solid bloc, but it turned out women divided their loyalties just as men did. In Rockwell’s 1920 Election Debate, we observe a woman who backs Republican Warren G. Harding, unlike her Democrat spouse — a James Cox man. Harding won of course, but not because of the female vote.
Then as now, political campaigns were hard-fought and exhausting. In Elect Casey, we find the “people’s choice” collapsed in stunned defeat after a phone call has delivered the final vote count.
No cigars for Casey tonight.