I Like Ike: Dwight Eisenhower, 1952

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The Eisenhower campaign was the first to use television advertisements to communicate with voters. By the 1950s, nearly 40 million Americans had televisions in their homes, offering not just a chance to watch candidates, but for campaigns to reach Americans across the country. This television screen shows Eisenhower’s arrival in New York as a presidential candidate in June 1952 after serving with NATO in Europe. Courtesy of University of Southern California Libraries.

Dwight Eisenhower won the election of 1952 in a landslide and became a widely celebrated president who led the country during an era of economic prosperity.  Prior to his presidential candidacy, however, Eisenhower was a political outsider; he had no public party affiliation and had never even voted.  

Like Jackson and Taylor, Eisenhower was a military hero, most famous for his service as a five-star general and commander of the Allied forces in Europe during World War II. In 1948, Eisenhower was courted as a candidate by both the Democratic and Republican parties, but declined to run. In 1952, however, he declared that he was a Republican and agreed to run for president on a platform of opposition to communism, the Korean War, and corruption.

Eisenhower initially resisted pressure to actively campaign, and was still serving as a NATO commander in Europe during the first several months of his candidacy. He returned to campaign during the summer of 1952 and, already a household name, Eisenhower’s heroic, yet down-to-earth demeanor and catchy “I like Ike” slogan propelled him to victory.