“As the Ethan Allen Institute goes, so goes Vermont,” Washington Post columnist visiting May 31 predicts
By Guy Page
Author, historian and Pulitzer-prize winning columnist George Will invoked a bit of Vermont presidential election history in his Facebook post promoting his May 31 visit to Vermont.
Will will be the honored guest at the 30th Anniversary Gala of the Ethan Allen Institute on Wednesday, May 31 at the Doubletree in South Burlington. Tickets can be reserved here.
“After Franklin Roosevelt’s 1936 landslide win, where he carried 46 of 48 states, the saying was ‘as Maine goes so goes Vermont,’” Will said. “Well I have a better idea. My idea is as the Ethan Allen Institute goes, so goes Vermont. And then as Vermont goes, so goes the nation. I look forward to being with the Institute and with you in Vermont, where Vermont is going to become, even more than it is already, a laboratory of Liberty.”
Here’s the backstory on Will’s reference.
According to Wikipedia, “As Maine goes, so goes the nation” was once a maxim in United States politics. The phrase described Maine’s reputation as a bellwether state for presidential elections. Maine’s September election of a governor predicted the party outcome of the November presidential election in 22 out of the 29 presidential election years from 1820 to 1932: namely 1820–1844, 1852, 1860–1880, 1888, 1896–1908 and 1920–1932; more importantly, as Maine was a generally Republican-leaning state, the margin of the September elections compared to expectations could predict national November results more than the identity of the winning party in Maine. A contest still won by the Republicans but with a narrower margin than usual would still predict good Democratic results nationally.
Then came the 1936 election, when Maine again went decisively Republican – and only Vermont, of the rest of the then 48 states, voted for Republican candidate Alf Landon.
Landon had such a heavy defeat in the election that he did not even win his home state, Kansas.
James Farley, a leading Democratic strategist who managed FDR’s campaign, quipped “As Maine goes, so goes Vermont.” In fact, since the birth of the Republican Party, Vermont and Maine have voted for different presidential candidates in the same election only twice, Wikipedia said.
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