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1948 Georgia gubernatorial special election

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1948 Georgia Democratic gubernatorial primary

← 1946 September 8, 1948 1950 →
No image.svg
Nominee Herman Talmadge Melvin E. Thompson
Party Democratic Democratic
Electoral vote 312 98
Popular vote 357,865 312,035
Percentage 51.77% 45.14%

Governor before election

Melvin E. Thompson

Elected Governor

Herman Talmadge

The 1948 Georgia gubernatorial special election took place on November 2, 1948, in order to elect the Governor of Georgia.

The election was held as ordered by the Supreme Court of Georgia's decision in 1947 declaring Melvin E. Thompson governor in the wake of The Three Governors Controversy.[1] Herman Talmadge, the son of the winner of the 1946 election, the late Eugene Talmadge,[2] defeated Governor Thompson in the Democratic primary by a margin of 51.8% to 45.1% with three other candidates getting 3.1% of the vote[1][3] and then proceeded to win the general election with 97.51% of the vote.

As was common at the time, the Democratic candidate ran with only token opposition in the general election so therefore the Democratic primary was the real contest, and winning the primary was considered tantamount to election.

Democratic primary

The Democratic primary election was held on September 8, 1948. As Talmadge won a majority of county unit votes, there was no run-off.

County unit system

From 1917 until 1962, the Democratic Party in the U.S. state of Georgia used a voting system called the county unit system to determine victors in statewide primary elections.[4]

The system was ostensibly designed to function similarly to the Electoral College, but in practice the large ratio of unit votes for small, rural counties to unit votes for more populous urban areas provided outsized political influence to the smaller counties.[5][6]

Under the county unit system, the 159 counties in Georgia were divided by population into three categories. The largest eight counties were classified as "Urban", the next-largest 30 counties were classified as "Town", and the remaining 121 counties were classified as "Rural". Urban counties were given 6 unit votes, Town counties were given 4 unit votes, and Rural counties were given 2 unit votes, for a total of 410 available unit votes. Each county's unit votes were awarded on a winner-take-all basis.[5][6]

Candidates were required to obtain a majority of unit votes (not necessarily a majority of the popular vote), or 206 total unit votes, to win the election. If no candidate received a majority in the initial primary, a runoff election was held between the top two candidates to determine a winner.[7]



Democratic primary[11][3][12]
Candidate Votes % CUV
Herman Talmadge 357,865 51.77 312
Melvin E. Thompson 312,035 45.14 98
Hoke O'Kelley 13,226 1.91 0
Hoke Willis 4,963 0.72 0
Joseph A. Rabun 3,150 0.46 0

General election

In the general election, Talmadge faced token opposition.


Barfoot was a candidate of the Progressive Party.[13]

1948 Georgia gubernatorial special election[14][15][16][17][18]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Herman Talmadge 354,711 97.51%
Write-in Morgan Blake 8,017 2.20%
Write-in James L. Barfoot 665 0.18%
Write-in Melvin E. Thompson 324 0.09%
Write-in Ralph McGill 22 0.01%
Write-in All others 24 0.01%
Turnout 363,763 100.00%
Democratic hold Swing


  1. ^ a b "Melvin E. Thompson (1903-1980)". New Georgia Encyclopedia.
  2. ^ "Herman Talmadge (1913-2002)". New Georgia Encyclopedia.
  3. ^ a b "GA Governor, 1948 - Special D Primary". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
  4. ^ "County Unit System". Georgia County Clerks Association. Archived from the original on 31 May 2008. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Eugene Talmadge". The Jim Crow Encyclopedia. The African American Experience. Archived from the original on 23 January 2015. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  6. ^ a b "County Unit System, eh?". Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies. 6 October 2011. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
  7. ^ Buchanan, Scott (13 June 2017). "County Unit System". New Georgia Encyclopedia. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
  8. ^ "Hoke O'Kelley Memorial Library". Emory University: History and Traditions. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
  9. ^ Rev. William C. Kernan (24 January 1947). "The Common Defense". The Ithacan. XVIII (14). Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY. p. 2. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
  10. ^ "Qualifications Of Candidates Listed" (PDF). The Technique. Atlanta, Georgia. 27 August 1948. p. 2. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
  11. ^ Congressional Quarterly 1998, p. 107.
  12. ^ Georgia Register 1950, pp. 574-577.
  13. ^ "Fire damages Barfoot home, 2 buildings". The Atlanta Constitution. Atlanta, Georgia. 25 September 1948. p. 1. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
  14. ^ Congressional Quarterly 1998, p. 48.
  15. ^ "GA Governor, 1948 - Special Election". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
  16. ^ Glashan 1979, pp. 68-69.
  17. ^ Georgia Register 1950, pp. 614-617.
  18. ^ America Votes 5, p. 82.


This page was last edited on 9 January 2021, at 20:29
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