Chiles publishes essay in New York History

In late May, Dr. Robert Chiles published his essay "Vanquished Warrior: Reconsidering Al Smith's 1928 New York Defeat" in volume 98, no. 1 of New York History, one of the leading state-level historical journals.  The article scrutinizes both quantitative and archival evidence to pose a major revision to the long-standing historical consensus on the 1928 election, arguing that it was not a surge in anti-Catholic, prohibitionist rural voting that undermined Smith's Empire State campaign, but rather his performance in New York City, which, although record-breaking for a Democratic presidential nominee, was underwhelming by Smith's own electoral standards.  Smith's relative urban weakness was especially acute among Progressive Republicans, who had routinely crossed party lines to vote for the Democrat in his earlier gubernatorial campaigns.
 
"The traditional narrative of Alfred E. Smith’s 1928 presidential defeat in New York State, where he had secured four triumphs in five statewide campaigns, holds that the governor’s urban strength was overwhelmed by voters beyond the five boroughs who were presumably stirred to ethnocultural angst over the prospect of their brown-derby-sporting chief executive moving into the White House. While much of that certainly occurred, the evidence presented here complicates the story, suggesting that the Democrat’s 1928 defeat in New York State was not the result of an unprecedented surge in anti-Smith rural voting. While by Democratic presidential standards Smith performed historically well in New York City, ultimately the Happy Warrior was thwarted by an inability to garner the sort of overpowering support there that had allowed him to overcome upstate Republican strength in the past—particularly in 1924. It was Smith’s disappointment in New York City which left the governor vulnerable to a heartbreaking home-state defeat."
 
The full article can be found here.