Harry Truman, whose approval ratings had sunk so low, you'd need a shovel and a flashlight to find them, urged Stevenson to seek the Democratic nomination. Stevenson spent the night in the Lincoln bedroom, awed at the historic furnishings surrounding him. He spent the night on the couch, unaware that the room had recently been refurnished, and he was sleeping on the only genuine antique in the room. 1
Up against Stevenson was Dwight Eisenhower; this was like a race for class president between the first-string quarterback of the football team and the captain of the chess club. Eisenhower was a five-star general who'd driven Nazis out of Europe in World War II. In '32 he'd also helped fight off some pesky World War I veterans who'd come to Washington to demand their pay bonuses.2
On top of all this, Eisenhower routinely shot in the low '80's in golf.
By comparison, Stevenson was a brain.
OK, so his grandfather had been vice president. Very big whoop. Instead of a sexy nickname like "Ike," Stevenson was called "Egghead." (Get it? His brain was really big, and he was bald, so his head looked like an egg! Ha-ha-ha-ha! Republicans are sooo funny!)
Think about it; with the Cold War heating up, and Commies infiltrating Hollywood like termites in swiss cheese,3 who would you want running the White House - a five-star general and a scratch golfer, or a straight-A student who talks about social justice and stuff?
Dwight Eisenhower: 457
Adlai Stevenson: 73
1. Mrs. Stevenson was back home in Illinois.
2. The attack on the "Bonus Army" was really a very peaceful operation and involved some of the brightest stars from World War II: General Patton, General MacArthur, and Dwight Eisenhower, at the time an aid to MacArthur. There were only 55 injuries, and one woman who miscarried. One protester did die later, but doctors said it was enteritis, although the "tear gas didn't do it any good." In a later biography, Eisenhower recollected saying he told "that dumb son-of-a-bitch [MacArthur] not to go down there. I told him it was no place for the Chief of Staff." In spite of this, at the time Eisenhower wrote the official report endorsing MacArthur's actions.
3. I'm running out of similes. Sorry.