Eisenhower’s first term has ended and his reelection seems assured. However, his health is an issue after having suffered a heart attack the previous year. Many believed he would not run for reelection; however, in 1956, he declared that he would run. This election took place during the Cold War with a post-Stalin Soviet Union.
For Republicans, Eisenhower’s late entry into the race led to a few candidates having declared an intention to run. William Knowland and John Bricker were too conservative options for voters. S. C. Arnold and Joe Foss were favorite candidate options. However, this competition appeared to be no threat to the president.
The Democrats had a much more varied field. Adlai Stevenson was the frontrunner in his renomination bid. The populist option was once again Estes Kefauver. Former president Truman supported Averell Harriman as a compromise choice. Various favorite son candidate, including Lyndon B. Johnson, joined the election.
The top third party was a very weak States’ Rights Party.
This election allows for many what-if scenarios:
- What if Harold Stassen once again ran as the liberal Republican option?
- Some pushed Herbert Hoover to run, despite the near quarter century since his presidency.
- Douglas MacArthur was still considered a candidate even though he was in his mid-70s.
- Henry Cabot Lodge was arguably the leader of the Eastern moderate establishment. What if he ran?
- Can Prescott Bush be the first Bush president?
- What if Harry S Truman attempted a comeback?
- Byrd, Kerr, Russell and Fulbright could have been Southern options for the Democrats.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr. had some supporters among those nostalgic for the FDR presidency. What if he had run?
- John F. Kennedy was a VP option in 1956. What if he had run for the presidency?
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