Gracie Allen for President – 1940 Campaign that Energized America
Everyone says today’s politics are insane and out of control. They long to return to a time when it wasn’t like this.
But that time doesn’t exist. Like ANTIFA to Democrats, it’s a myth.
In fact, 80 years ago, a famous television star launched a spoof bid for the White House.
Gracie Allen, of Burns & Allen fame, ran for President in 1940 on the Surprise Party ticket.
The campaign was a response to the political climate at the time, and in the end, it’s credited with getting Americans excited to vote … and for promoting the Burns & Allen radio show.
Gracie Allen for President 1940
It all started with a hunch.
According to this report in the Shamokin News-Dispatch on Feb. 23, 1940, Allen launched her campaign with a petition drive in Hollywood.
If anyone signed her petition, the report reads, they got a handful of nuts.
Buoyed by that groundswell, Gracie launched a campaign on the Surprise Party ticket.
During her campaign, Gracie even picked up some key endorsements, like this one reported via United Press in the Lansing (Mich.) State Journal in March 1940:
Gracie’s campaign had all the theatrics of a regular political campaign. The only difference is, everyone liked her.
Here’s a clip from the Colfax County Call in Schuyler, Nebraska, from May 9, 1940.
Gracie was due in Omaha on a whistle stop tour to promote her candidacy for President on the Surprise Party ticket.
The stop in Omaha didn’t disappoint fans of the comedy duo. Here’s a report on the train tour, Golden Spike festival, and the Burns and Allen parade to promote her run for President:
The campaign even attracted the international press. Here’s a review of her book “How to Become President” from The Windsor Star in Canada:
Of course, Gracie’s run for the White House was more of a publicity stunt than anything.
But did she actually get votes? There have been reports of her getting up to 50,000 votes.
But the actual returns tell a different story.
1940 Presidential Election
So, what really happened in the 1940 Presidential election? It was quite historic.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a Democrat, was elected to a third – yes, third – term. FDR beat Republican Wendell Willkie soundly in the electoral vote, 449-82. He won the popular vote by nearly 5 million votes.
At that time, Pennsylvania had the second most electoral votes, 36, in the country. The biggest prize on Election Night in 1940 was New York’s 47 votes.
Allen didn’t appear on any ballots, of course, so voters would have been forced to writer her name in for President.
According to USElectionAtlas.org, there were 49.9 million votes cast for President in 1940. Most went to FDR, of course. Willkie came in second with 44%. If we assume that every write-in that year went for Gracie (which it probably didn’t), then she would have gotten, at most, about 2,800 votes.