In November 1952, Dwight D. Eisenhower won the presidential election by a landslide vote. In Massachusetts, however, a relatively unknown and inexperienced Congressman John F. Kennedy narrowly defeated incumbent Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., to become only the third Democrat in the Commonwealth's history elected to the United States Senate. The victory signaled the dawn of a new political era and proved to be an equally decisive moment in determining the future careers of both candidates.
Thomas J. Whalen provides a penetrating analysis of this pivotal campaign and tells the fascinating story of a political duel between two families that spanned nearly half a century. Bringing together a wealth of material, he shows how Kennedy beat Lodge through a combination of fortuitous circumstances and deft use of pioneering electioneering tactics. Whalen details how the candidates' different backgrounds influenced their attitudes toward public service and electoral politics, examines the structure and effectiveness of their campaign organizations, and discusses the intra-party squabbles that each man had to deal with. In addition, he considers how Kennedy's triumph marked the shift from Republican to Democratic dominance in post-war Massachusetts.
The author assesses strategies employed by Kennedy that would come into play eight years later in his presidential campaign against Richard M. Nixon, giving special attention to the ways in which he exploited the new medium of television and courted the women's vote. Whalen reveals how Lodge was crippled by conservative Robert Taft Republicans who withheld their support as revenge for his leadership role in Eisenhower's bid for the presidential nomination, and he discusses the sensitive issue for both candidates of Senator Joseph McCarthy's proposed involvement in the campaign.
KENNEDY VERSUS LODGE offers a well-researched and objective perspective on both a key Senate race and a political rivalry that forever changed the landscape of electoral politics in America.