A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from June 27, 2012
Clothespin Vote

A clothespin is a pin (often made of wood, with a small spring) used to hang wet clothes on a clothesline—the usual way clothes were dried before electric dryers. Newspaper cartoonists often showed someone with a clothespin holding the nose closed, preventing the smell of something awfully bad.

The term “clothespin vote” was used in Texas in July 1954, describing a voter who votes despite a strong dislike of the candidates. The political analyst and columnist Stewart Alsop (1914-1974) popularized the term with the article “The Clothespin Vote” in the April 17, 1972 issue of Newsweek magazine.


Wiktionary: clothespin vote
Etymology
From the idea of figuratively “holding one’s nose and voting”.
Noun
clothespin vote
(plural clothespin votes)
1.A vote for a given candidate despite distaste for him or her.

Nice Definition
Clothespin vote - (Noun)
A vote for a given candidate despite distaste for him or her.

31 July 1954, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Campaign Apology Due Our Visitors” (editorial), pt. 3, pg. 2, col. 1:
You see, we have in Texas what is known as the clothespin vote. Though their number grows less each year, we still have many good people who put a clothespin to their nose and “vote her straight” for men whom they dislike alongside voters whom they deplore and detest. These straight-voting voters are called loyalists.

24 August 1954, Dallas (TX) Morning News, pt. 3, pg. 2 editorial cartoon:
THE CLOTHESPIN VOTE
-- By Herc Ficklen
(A Democratic donkey is seen with on clothespin on its nose—ed.)

9 November 1954, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “Letters from Readers,” pt. 3, pg. 2, col. 3:
Clothespin Vote
To the Dallas News:
It is evident since Nov. 2 that the Republicans who had the clothespin on their noses in August and voted for Wallace Savage had found someone to vote for that did not require a clothespin. So they removed it and Bruce Alger, who does not know the alphabet quite as well as Savage, goes to Washington.
MRS. J. W. WALLACE
2823 Fernwood, Dallas

17 April 1972, Newsweek, pg. 108:
The Clothespin Vote
By Stewart Alsop

Google News Archive
17 April 1972, Ellensburg (WA) Daily Record, pg. 8, col. 1:
The clothespin vote
(...)
If McGovern is nominated, there is sure to be a massive “clothespin vote” anyway—a clothespin voter being a Democrat who will vote forthe unloved Mr. Nixon, wearing a figurative clothespin on his nose.
(...)
(By Stewart Alsop in NEWSWEEK)

4 December 1973, Charleston (WV) Gazette, “Here’s Diddy...Her Favorite Dictionary Lists One Word That Doesn’t Exist” by Diddy Mathews Palmer, pg. 12A, col. 2:
Other new words filed as possible candidates for future dictionaries include “carboholic” (a compulsive eater), “clothespin vote” (the candidates all smell), “Cooper’s Droop” (caused by bralessness) and “iogophag” (one who eats his words).

Google Books
Stay of Execution:
A sort of memoir

By Stewart Alsop
Philadelphia, PA: J.B. Lippincott Co.
1973
Pg. 234:
I read the papers more thoroughly than usual. Reread a piece I’d written over the weekend at Needwood and realized it was no good, except for one phrase ("the clothespin vote,” for Democrats who will vote for Nixon with vast reluctance).

Google News Archive
23 October 1980, Pittsburgh (PA) Post-Gazette, “The dying language of the hashslinger” by William Safire, pg. 5, col. 2:
The clothespin vote
(...)
A “clothespin vote” is nowhere to be found in the political dictionaries, including my own. To a generation equipped with electric driers, it is necessary to explain first that a clothespin is a wooden peg or clamp which is used to fasten clothes on a line. In cartoons early in the century, a clothespin was affixed to a person’s nose to illustrate his desire to dissociate himself from his surroundings. It was a modern form of holding your nose.

Thus, a “clothespin vote” is one made by a voter with an extreme lack of enthusiasm.
(Originally published in the New York Times on October 19, 2000—ed.)

New York (NY) Times
Essay; The Clothespin Vote
By WILLIAM SAFIRE
Published: November 06, 2000
The magic moment of maturity in every voter’s life comes when he or she accepts the fact that no candidate is right on every issue. At that moment, one either becomes a chooser or a loser.
(...)
Here’s my way out: our system offers us an opportunity to hedge our bets. Even when forced to cast a ‘’clothespin vote’’ (go explain that metaphor to a washer-dryer generation that has never seen a clothesline), we have a way to ease the pain of choice.

Google Books
Safire’s Political Dictionary
By William Safire
New York, NY: Oxford University Press
2008
Pg. 130:
clothespin vote A loyalist’s vote cast without enthusiasm or with outright displeasure.

A clothespin—as was formerly well known—is a wooden peg or clip used to feasten wet clothes to a line for drying. This type of pin, its name an Americanism first found in print in 1846 and for a century an indispensable household item before the onset of electric driers, was long used to signal disgust. Cartoons from the turn of the twentieth century show a person’s nose clamped tight with a clothespin to keep from inhaling unpleasant odors.

DateHookup.com
Does Santorum dropping out leave you with a Clothespin vote?
tj_brewer1
4/15/2012 3:13:42 PM
1. Yes, I will hold my nose and vote for Romney
2. Yes, I will hold my nose and vote for Obama
3. Yes, I’m voting m-i-c-k-e-y-m-o-u-s-e
4. No, I was already voting for Romney
5. No, I was already voting for Obama
6. No, I’m not voting. 

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Wednesday, June 27, 2012 • Permalink