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Gallup Vault: "Liberty vs. Socialism" as a Campaign Slogan
Gallup Vault

Gallup Vault: "Liberty vs. Socialism" as a Campaign Slogan

In 1950, the Republican Party attempted to frame that year's midterm elections as a choice between liberty and socialism, akin to a debate heard today. Yet in an early 1950 Gallup poll, only 25% of Americans had heard of the "Liberty Versus Socialism" slogan.

Americans' Familiarity With 1950 GOP Campaign Slogan
Have you heard or read about the slogan, "Liberty Versus Socialism," which the Republicans plan to use in the election campaign this fall?
  U.S. adults%
Yes 25
No 75
Gallup, Feb. 26-March 3, 1950

Gallup posed a follow-up question to those familiar with the phrase, asking, "Do you think this is the real issue (in the election campaign this fall), or not?" About a third -- equal to just 9% of all Americans -- said it was.

The Republican Party failed to retake control of the U.S. House in 1950 after losing it in 1948; however, the party made significant seat gains. How much of a factor the Republicans' seemingly obscure campaign theme was in this development isn't clear. The GOP ultimately dropped the slogan because of complaints from inside and outside the party that the charge of "socialism" against President Harry Truman and his Fair Deal policies was unfair. However, the issue didn't go away. In September 1952, Ohio Sen. Robert Taft, the conservative stalwart and Truman opponent known as "Mr. Republican," said:

"Socialism is a relative term, but if and when government power threatens to direct all the lives of its people and absorb the greater part of the activities of the nation, it is fair to say that socialization reaches the goal of socialism itself. Basically the issue is one of liberty against socialism, and we must decide it in 1952."

These data can be found in Gallup Analytics.

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