Lost in the New Deal Realignment: GI Joe
By Helmut Norpoth, Stony Brook University
Military service in World War II produced a generation of Democrats. This finding results from an examination of Gallup polls (1945–1953) that probed both party identification and wartime service. The 1944 election afforded soldiers an opportunity to vote for their commander in chief, and they did so by a large margin for Franklin D. Roosevelt—a Democrat. A vote under these circumstances is bound to leave lifelong marks on a cohort in its impressionable years, which was the life stage of many World War II soldiers. Further tests rule out the possibility that the Democratic tendency of soldiers was simply the result of their youthful age, lower socioeconomic status, urban background, union membership, race, or Southern region—all of which predict partisanship. Neither did the return to civilian life erode the Democratic edge of veterans. GI Joe is an unsung hero of what is widely known as the New Deal realignment.