Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Red vs. Blue

by Connie Cortright

     Since most people were focused on the elections, I wanted to find out how they worked back in the day. There were no TV’s during the 20’s and 30’s so we know people weren’t glued to them like we were last night. So how did people find out the results of elections?

     I wanted to find some interesting facts about elections during the 1920’s to 30’s for you. Thanks to the help of my wonderful local librarian and online archived newspapers, here they are:

·       1920 was the first election in which women could vote. That must have been an exciting election to participate in.
·       Radio was used for the first time to air election results in Pittsburgh in 1920. Election results were called in via telephone to the radio station. While they were waiting for more results to be called in, the audience was entertained with live banjo music. Sounds like fun.
·       Newspapers across the country announced the election results by a megaphone from their front steps yet in 1920. I don’t think I’d like to stand out in the weather for hours to hear the news.
·       In the late 20’s the radio was used more for campaign speeches and election results were broadcast via radio stations. The candidates were heard live for the first time on air, so their speaking ability and even different accents affected the way people voted.
·       Polls were conducted back then to predict the results of the elections, but they were done through the mail. The Literary Digest Poll was a straw poll of 10,000,000 ballots sent out and returned by mail. They got the list of names in the phone book, list of automobile owners, and registered voters. The problem was getting people to mail the election poll back to be counted. I can’t imagine they were too accurate.
·       In 1932 Franklin Roosevelt used the song “Happy Days Are Here Again” for his campaign song for the first time. Since then it has become the unofficial anthem of Democratic Party campaigns.

     The election in 1932 was on November 8. The first page of the November 9th paper was entirely stories about the election, so results of the elections were known the next day even back then. The interesting thing is that the cover stories were entirely biographical material for president-elect Roosevelt, his wife, and the vice president-elect. Can you imagine hearing about the life of our president- elect and his wife the day AFTER the election? In most cases today, the past history is found out months before the elections.

     It would be interesting to see what campaigns were like back then. Maybe they were actually about policy topics and future plans. That would be a breath of fresh air compared to some of our negative campaigns today.

     At least, all the campaign ads are finally done for this year!

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