A popular story is told about Adlai Stevenson (1900-1965) when he was running for president in 1952 (or in 1956). Someone heard Stevenson’s impressive speech and said, “Every thinking person in America will be voting for you.” Stevenson replied, “I’m afraid that won’t do—I need a majority.”
It’s not known with any certainty that this exchange actually happened. The Adlai Stevenson political anecdote has been cited in print since at least 1968.
Wikiquote: Adlai Stevenson
Adlai Ewing Stevenson II (5 February 1900 – 14 July 1965) was an American politician and statesman, noted for his skill in debate and oratory; Governor of Illinois, he was twice an unsuccessful candidate for President of the United States running against Dwight D. Eisenhower (in 1952 and 1956). Under the John F. Kennedy administration, he served as United States Ambassador to the United Nations.
That’s not enough, madam, we need a majority!
. Supposed response to a woman who called out to him: “Senator, you have the vote of every thinking person!” during one of his presidential campaigns. This quote has appeared with several variations in dozens of books and newspaper articles at least since the 1970s. One of the earlier references is in a book review article by Robert Sherrill in the New York Times, “Titles in the Running for 1972”, February 13, 1972. No source closer to Stevenson has been found, in particular none that names a witness nor the date or location of the remark.
9 December 1968, The Pocono Record (Stroudsburg, PA), “Light Side” with Gene Brown, pg. 4, col. 1:
The recent election was funny without being humorous. Things were better in ‘52, even, when Adlai Stevenson delivered an oration that inspired a man to tell him: “After that brilliant speech, every thinking person in America will vote for you. Adlai: “I’m afraid that won’t do—I need a majority.”
The Political Image Merchants:
Strategies in the New Politics
By Ray Eldon Hiebert
Washington, DC: Acropolis Books
In 1956, I heard Adlai Stevenson make a very impassioned and beautiful speech, after which an overzealous reporter jumped up in the back of the room and said, “Governor Stevenson, if every right-minded person in the country votes for you, you’ll be President of the United States.” And Stevenson’s remark was, “I’m sorry. That’s not enough. I need a majority.”
Google News Archive
10 January 1972, Pittsburgh (PA) Press, “Muskie Fails To Gain Support In Florida” by Ted Knap (Scripps-Howard Staff Writer), pg. 23, col. 2:
He (Edmund Muskie—ed.)recalled in Tallahassee that when Adlai E. Stevenson was told by a supporter that “all the thinking people are for you,” Stevenson replied, “that’s not enough. I need a majority.”
His Life and Legacy
By Porter McKeever
New York, NY: Quill
This self-denigrating sense of humor repeatedly minimized his impact, as indicated by his response to an admirer in the 1956 campaign who told him “every thinking person was on his side.” He replied, “That’s wonderful! But I need a majority.”
Great Political Wit:
Laughing (Almost) All the Way to the White House
By Bob Dole
New York, NY: DOubleday
Informed by academics that he enjoyed the “support of all thinking Americans,” Stevenson joked, “That’s not enough. I’m going to need a majority.”
The Political Brain:
The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation
By Drew Westen
New York, NY: Public Affairs
When the eloquent Adlai Stevenson was running for president against Dwight Eisenhower, a woman gushed to the Democratic candidate after a rally, “Every thinking person will be voting for you.” Stevenson supposedly replied: “Madam, that is not enough. I need a majority.”
The Biteback Dictionary of Humorous Political Quotations
By Fred Matcalf
London: Biteback Publishing Ltd.
It is not enough to have every intelligent person in the country voting for me – I need a majority.
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • Saturday, October 18, 2014 • Permalink