PVI Guy ✯ Profile picture
19 Jul, 20 tweets, 15 min read
#ElectionTwitter In this thread, I'll discuss the impact that the World Wars had on German-American voting patterns (fyi, this is an extremely long thread).
German Catholics voted overwhelmingly Democratic at the time, and were concentrated in places like eastern Wisconsin, Stearns county MN, Dubuque IA, Clinton county IL, Dubois county IN, Ellis county KS, and Putnam & Mercer counties in OH.
Protestant Germans tended to be Republican at the time, especially pietistic ones like Mennonites. The GOP did very well with these voters in places like North & South Dakota. Also, Gillespie county in Texas was staunchly Republican as a Unionist stronghold in the Civil War.
In 1916, many German-Americans were against entering WW1. They believed that Woodrow Wilson favored the British and French over Germany, and that he was not to be trusted. As a result, many German-American leaders urged their community to oppose Wilson in the election.
In Wisconsin, many Germans in Wisconsin who voted for Wilson in 1912 backed Charles Evans Hughes in 1916. Wilson even lost staunchly Catholic Ozaukee county, which had never voted Republican before in history.
This trend occurred in other states as well, including Minnesota, South Dakota, and Texas. For example, Wilson lost majority-Catholic Sterns county in Minnesota, which had only voted Republican once in its entire history.
Despite campaigning on platform of neutrality, Wilson had the US declare war on Germany shortly after the election. During the war, ethnic Germans were discriminated against and prohibited from speaking their language or celebrating their culture in public by local governments.
After the war, the German-American community vowed revenge against the Democrats for the persecution they had suffered. They overwhelmingly backed Republican candidate Warren G. Harding over Democrat James Cox, who had banned the teaching of German as governor of Ohio.
In North Dakota and Minnesota, Harding probably won around 80-90% of the ethnic German vote. By comparing the results to the map of Germans by county on the bottom right, it becomes apparent just how well the Republicans did with this ethnic group.
In Wisconsin, Harding won 71% of the vote and completely obliterated Cox in every county, with the Democrat even coming in third place in several counties. Many Germans voted for Socialist candidate Eugene Debs in protest against the Democrats, as seen in the map on the right.
Other majority-German areas saw substantial declines in support for the Democrats as well. In these maps created by @Mill226, we can see how places like Putnam & Mercer in OH, Clinton & Monroe in IL, Dubois in IN, Osage & St. Genevieve in MO, and Ellis in KS all swung to Harding.
Other German-Americans voted for third parties like the Socialists and the Farmer-Labor party instead of the Republicans. In Texas, for example, many Germans voted for American party candidate James Ferguson.
In 1924, German-American leaders backed Progressive candidate Robert La Follette, who opposed WW1 and the League of Nations. As a result, ethnic Germans strongly supported his candidacy and voted for him in large numbers.
La Follette did well in many majority-German counties in the Midwest and even won Gillespie county in Texas. His strength with Germans allowed him to come in second place to Calvin Coolidge in many states and win 17% of the popular vote.
In 1928, many German-Americans returned to the Democratic party to support Al Smith because of his Catholicism and his opposition to Prohibition. During the Great Depression, even more voted for Franklin Roosevelt as poverty and drought gripped the nation.
During FDR's second term, WWII erupted in Europe between Britain and France against Nazi Germany. FDR sided with the Allies, but German-Americans were vehemently opposed to waging war against their fatherland and supported the isolationist movement.
In the 1940 election, the Democrats experienced massive defections by ethnic Germans to Wendell Wilkie, as they were receptive to claims by Republicans that FDR was a war monger. In this trend map by @Mill226, it is shockingly clear how much this shift correlates w/ ethnicity.
Throughout the Midwest, Germans stampeded to Wilkie. Many counties that FDR had won 4 years before voted for the GOP by margins of 20 or more points. In McIntosh county in ND, which is 80% German, the Republicans won 91% of the vote!
1940 proved to be a realigning election for German-Americans. While Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy were able to win some of these voters back, many majority-German counties never again supported Democrats as strongly as they did before WWII.

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More from @PviGuy

18 Jul
#ElectionTwitter Here's a map that I made of Theodore Roosevelt's performance by county as the presidential candidate for the Progressive party in 1912. Roosevelt received 27% of the popular vote, which is the best showing for a third-party candidate in American history. Image
From comparing the 1912 results to the Free Soil Party's performance in 1848, it becomes apparent that Roosevelt won a lot of Yankee-settled areas in the Midwest that were Republican strongholds ImageImage
Roosevelt also did very well with Scandinavian voters, enabling him to win over 50% of the vote in counties like Kittson and Marshall in northwest Minnesota that were majority-Scandinavian, while also winning pluralities in the heavily Norwegian Lake Superior lowland in Wisconsin ImageImage
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