Ohio History Journal

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Auxiliary and Non-Party Politics:

The 1936 Democratic Presidential

Campaign in Ohio




Presidential candidates and political observers have long viewed

Ohio as a key state. In the 1936 presidential election both parties

made an intense effort to capture the state's twenty-six electoral

votes. The Democrats were successful because of their candidate,

the popular incumbent Franklin D. Roosevelt, and their campaign

strategy, which was to go outside of the Democratic party to attract

voters who had a significant stake in the New Deal relief and recov-

ery programs; black Americans, farmers, laborers, women, and

ethnic groups. To attract these voters, the Democrats organized a

number of auxiliary and non-party committees that supplemented

the work of the Democratic party and sought support from indepen-

dents and voters of all parties who felt at ease supporting Roosevelt

but not the Democratic party. Among the committees organized

were Labor's Non-Partisan League, the Good Neighbor League, the

Roosevelt All-Party Agricultural Committee, and the Committee of


For the Democrats, Ohio was an ideal state in which to put their

campaign strategy to work because of the large number of workers,

black Americans, and farmers. Roosevelt had won by the narrow

margin of 74,016 votes in 1932, and Democrats expected an even

tougher battle in 1936.2 A report from Lorena Hickok, chief field


Thomas T. Spencer is Assistant Archivist at the Archives of the University of

Notre Dame.



1. Donald R. McCoy, "The Election of 1936," Crucial American Elections (Phil-

adelphia, 1973), 67-68. For an analysis of the role of auxiliary committees in the 1936

Democratic campaign, see Thomas T. Spencer, "Democratic Auxiliary and Non-Party

Groups in the Election of 1936" (unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of

Notre Dame, 1976).

2. Edgar Eugene Robinson, They Voted for Roosevelt: The Presidential Vote, 1932-

1944 (Stanford, 1947), 139.