The Republican victory with Herbert C. Hoover in 1928 marked the first time since the end of Reconstruction that the party had carried states of the old Confederacy; this came about chiefly because the Democratic candidate, Alfred E. Smith, was a Roman Catholic and an opponent of prohibition. Hoover and the Republicans were blamed for the disastrous economic depression that soon enveloped the country, and the Democrats, under Franklin Delano Roosevelt, were swept into office in 1932. The frustrated Republicans were never able to break the remarkable hold of Roosevelt and the New Deal on the electorate and regularly went down to defeat every four years, with Alfred M. Landon (1936), Wendell Willkie (1940), and Thomas E. Dewey (1944).
Isolationists held the upper hand in the party before World War II, and in 1940 two Republicans, Henry L. Stimson and Frank Knox, were virtually read out of the party for accepting posts in Roosevelt's cabinet. But the party supported the nation's war effort and after the war, led by Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg, joined the Democratic administration in a bipartisan foreign policy. In 1948 the Republican party was supremely confident of defeating Roosevelt's successor, Harry S. Truman. However, Dewey, the party's first unsuccessful candidate ever to be renominated, was defeated by a close margin.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.