Besides earning historical fame for the biggest margin of victory ever voted in a Harvard straw poll, Lyndon Johnson also must be noted as one of a very small number of Democrats ever to receive this honor. From the party's inception in the 1850's until World War II, Harvard only once failed to prefer the Republican standard bearer.
Only in 1912, when local Republicans were hopelessly divided over T.R. (of the Class of '80) and Taft, did a Democrat sneak in. But he really doesn't count; he got a plurality and not a majority.
Before and after then, though, Harvard maintained a moderate conservative tradition that dated from the days when it endorsed Washington and Adams and chastised Thomas Jefferson.
In the CRIMSON straw polls on record, the University cast the following votes:
In 1860, Republicans 47, Constitutional Unionists 23, Democrats 9.
In 1884, James G. Blaine 483, Grover Cleveland 463.
In 1888, Benjamin Harrison 650, Grover Cleveland 493.
In 1892, Benjamin Harrison 1114, Grover Cleveland 851.
In 1896, William McKinley 1489, Palmer 327, William Jennings Bryan 108.
In 1900, William McKinley.
In 1904, Teddy Roosevelt.
In 1908, William Howard Taft.
In 1912, Woodrow Wilson 735, T.R. 475, Taft 365.
In 1916, Charles Evans Hughes 114, Woodrow Wilson 627.
In 1920, Warren G. Harding 1075, James Cox 805, Eugene V. Debs 110.
In 1924, Calvin Coolidge 2573, John W Davis 1200, Robert LaFollette 789.
In 1928, Herbert Hoover 2080, Alfred E Smith 1775.
In 1932, Herbert Hoover 1211, F.D.R. 395, Norman Thomas 386.
In 1936, Alfred E. Landon 1016, F.D.R. 995.
1940, Wendell Wilkie 2345, F.D.R. 1705
Between 1941 and 1945 Harvard served as a training ground for the armed forces and the Harvard Service News, the war time CRIMSON, took no polls and wrote no editorials.
The first post-war poll, in 1948, clearly indicated that things were changing around Harvard. Although Dewey got 52 per cent of the vote, the University split its vote schizophrenically. The breakdown:
Dewey 1520, Truman 739, Thomas 215, Wallace 212. Thurmond 95, Undecided 95, Other Candidates 70.
Coincidentally, this was the first year Radcliffe girls were polled. It was also the first year that the Democratic candidate for president was ever endorsed in a CRIMSON editorial.
In the four presidential elections since then, the Democratic candidates have been victorious in the University three times, and have been endorsed by the CRIMSON four times:
In 1952, Stevenson 1942, Elsenhower 1315. (Straw poll results charged fraudulent by HYRC.)
In 1956, Elsenhower 2785, Stevenson 2637.
In 1960, Kennedy 3461, Nixon 2412.
In 1964, Johnson 4470, Goldwater 719.
Although the CRIMSON only has on file the presidential straw polls since 1884 it is generally agreed that the practice is considerably older, dating probably to 1788. After all, the institution of President of the United States did not come into being until well into Harvard's maturity as a University.