Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Bibly, John||Dionisopoulos, P. Allan

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Political Science


Elections--United States; Presidents--United States--Election; United States--Congress--Elections


This thesis is primarily concerned with the impact of presidential coattails on congressional election in twelve Midwestern states from 1952 through 1964. The main objective of this study was to discover where presidential coattails were operative and the reasons why. Aggregate data derived from official returns provided the necessary data for analysis. Findings in this study indicated the “pulling power” of the victories presidential candidate was strongest where his part locally was weakest. The presidential influence was also significant in marginal districts especially those already held by the winning party. Approximately half of the congressional seats switching parties between 1952 and 1961 occurred in these districts. Most districts followed the expected national trend, i.e., the congressional candidates of the victorious presidential candidate scored vote percentage gains in presidential years, but suffered percentage losses at midterm. Candidates most successful in districts not following the expected national trend were incumbent congressmen running for their second term. An analysis was also conducted to determine what variables seem to produce the strongest presidential coattail influence. Districts permitting easy straight ticket voting were more influenced by the presidential tide than those which made straight ticket voting more difficult. Findings suggested that the lower educated, non-whites, Catholics, blue collar urban residents living in rented homes comprised the model straight ticket voter most susceptible to presidential influence. Their impact on congressional elections, however, was definitely limited by their sporadic participation in politics and their concentration in predominately "safe" Democratic districts. Although this study indicated that increased nationalization of American politics may enhance the electoral foundation for party conhesion, it also noted a paradoxical trend of rising split ticket voting that may well undermine any semblance of a more responsible party system in the future.


Includes bibliographical references.


vii, 106 pages




Northern Illinois University

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