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 January 04, 2010
“As Maine goes, so goes the nation”

"As goes Maine, so goes the nation” usually means that the winner of Maine’s presidential vote will win the presidential election. This was not the original form of the phrase, nor its original meaning. Maine held elections for state offices (such as governor) in September, when the weather is less cold than in November. The election for governor was held to be a harbinger of election results to come in other states. In 1957, Maine began to hold November elections, making the phrase no longer applicable.

In October 1832, these appeared in print: “As goes Albany, so goes New York.” “As goes Philadelphia, so goes Pennsylvania.” “As goes Maryland, so goes the Union.”

In November 1834, this was printed; “The Albanians (People from Albany, NY—ed.) have said ‘as goes the fourth ward, so goes the State.’ The New Yorkers say ‘as goes the State so goes the Union.’”

New York and Pennsylvania appear to be the first states to popularly use the phrase in the 1830s. In 1836, there was: “As goes the Key State (Pennsylvania—ed.) so goes the Union.”

In the presidential election of 1840, the phrase was frequently used to describe the state of Ohio.

“As goes Maine, so goes the Union” appears to have caught on as a national phrase in September 1844, just before that year’s presidential election.  The Democrat victories in Maine were followed by the election of Democrat James Knox Polk to the presidency in November.

New York and Pennsylvania gradually became disassociated with the phrase. “As goes Maine” became “as Maine goes.” The word “union” was replaced with “nation” by the end of the 19th century.

In the presidential election of 1936, Franklin Delano Roosevelt won every state except for Maine and Vermont. “As Maine goes, so goes Vermont” was an immediate 1936 election day quip.


Wikipedia: As Maine goes, so goes the nation
“As Maine goes, so goes the nation” is a phrase that at one time was in wide currency in United States politics. The phrase described Maine’s reputation as a bellwether state for presidential elections. Specifically, Maine’s September election of a governor predicted the party outcome of the November presidential election in presidential election years from 1832 (if not earlier) through 1844, in 1852, from 1860 through 1876, in 1888, from 1896 through 1908 and from 1920 through 1932.

Beginning with its creation as a state in 1820 when it split off from Massachusetts, Maine held its elections for statewide and congressional offices in September, not November as did most other states, due to warmer September weather and Maine’s early harvest. (Maine did hold its presidential elections in November.)

Maine’s reputation as a bellwether began in 1840, when it voted in Edward Kent, the Whig Party candidate, as Governor of Maine. Two months later, the Whig party Presidential candidate, William Henry Harrison, won the 1840 presidential election. Again in 1888 Maine voted solidly for Republican Party candidates, and Republican Benjamin Harrison won the Presidential election despite losing the overall popular vote nationwide. The saying originated following this election, though it is unknown by whom. In subsequent election cycles, national political parties often went to considerable lengths to win Maine’s early Congressional and statewide elections, despite the state’s relatively small population (and hence few seats in the House of Representatives, and few electoral votes in the November presidential elections) and somewhat remote location.

As Maine goes, so goes Vermont
In 1936, Maine elected a Republican Governor, Lewis O. Barrows, an overwhelmingly Republican state legislature, and an all-Republican congressional delegation in its early balloting, and Republicans trumpeted the phrase. Maine had elected a Democratic Governor and two Democratic congressmen in both 1932 (although the state had still voted for Republican President Herbert Hoover that November) and 1934, and the Democrats had been making gains in the Maine Legislature, so the Republican victories in Maine in September 1936 may have seemed indicative of a national Republican trend. That November, however, only Maine and Vermont voted for Republican nominee Alf Landon over President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1936 Presidential election, giving Landon only eight electoral votes (the three from Vermont and the five from Maine), equalling the smallest total ever (as of 2008[update]) won by a major-party nominee since the beginning of the current U.S. two-party system in the 1850s, and destroying the credibility of the phrase permanently. (Landon had such a bad election that he didn’t even win his home state, Kansas.) Democratic strategist and F.D.R. campaign manager James Farley quipped “As Maine goes, so goes Vermont.” From then on, the party whose nominee won Maine’s September gubernatorial election in presidential election years went on to win the November Presidential election only once—in 1952, when Republican Burton M. Cross was elected Governor and Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected to his first term as President.

In 1957, Maine changed its election law to hold all general elections in November. Beginning in 1960 it held elections at the same time as the rest of the United States, ending the tradition of early voting.

Since Maine relinquished its status as presidential bellwether, Delaware, Missouri, Kentucky, Nevada, and Ohio have held the title over various spans of time.

13 October 1832, The Herald (Frederick, MD), pg. 3, col. 3:
The New York Commercial thus notices the cheering result of the election in Maryland:

HURRA FOR MARYLAND.—“As goes Albany, so goes New York.” “As goes Philadelphia, so goes Pennsylvania.” “As goes Maryland, so goes the Union.” Good news enough for one week.

3 November 1834, New Bedford (MA) Gazette, pg. 2:
The Albanians (People from Albany, NY—ed.) have said “as goes the fourth ward, so goes the State.” The New Yorkers say “as goes the State so goes the Union.”

11 January 1836, Albany (NY) Evening Journal, pg. 2:
We perfectly agree with Mr. Van Buren, that “as goes the Key State (Pennsylvania—ed.) so goes the Union.”

29 November 1837, Democratic Free Press (Detroit, MI), pg. 1, col. 1:
Boston, they say, has actually gone for whiggery by its usual majority; and “as goes Boston, so goes the state.”

14 December 1837, New Hampshire Sentinel (NH), pg. 1:
From the N. Y. Mercantile Advertiser.
CONFESSIONS OF A JACKSON MAN. READ!
New York is now erect; and if it be as the Albany Argus said, “as goes the fourth Ward at Albany, so goes the state,” we add, as goes the Empire State so goes the Union.

18 April 1838, Zion’s Herald (Boston, MA), pg. 63, col. 2:
“AS GOES ROXBURY, SO GOES THE NATION.”

4 May 1838, Daily Courant (Hartford, CT), pg. 3, col. 1:
“AS GOES THE FOURTH WARD, SO GOES THE STATE!”

6 September 1838, Emancipator and Republican (MA), pg. 77:
ANNUAL MEETING OF THE N. Y> STATE SOCIETY—We hope there will be a general rally of our friends at utica, on the 19th inst. it will be an important meeting. “As goes New-York, so goes the nation,” is the motto of politicians;—and the results of the last twenty years have confirmed its truth.

12 September 1838, The Age (Augusta, ME), pg. 2, col. 5:
We are fatigued with the constantly accumulating reports of unexpected triumphs. “As goes Maine, so goes the Union,” say our opponents, and so say we.

2 October 1838, Daily Commercial Bulletin (MO), pg. 2:
The coming election in Pennsylvania will even decide the Presidential election. As that State now goes, so will it go in the greater contest, and “as goes Pennsylvania, so goes the Union.”

6 October 1838, Detroit (MI) Daily Free Press, “Democracy of Maine,” pg. 2, col. 4:
By T. W. Smith. “As goes Maine, so goes the Union,” so says Dr. Evans, so say we.

17 December 1839, Hudson River Chronicle (NY), pg. 2:
THE PRESIDENT.—The Pittsburgh Advocate remarks—“We wish our Whig friends to bear in mind that no man was ever yet elected to the Presidency, who could not carry his own State. It is not likely that Mr. Van Buren, with the forty-two electoral votes of New York against him, will form an exception to this rule. As goes New York, so goes the Union.”

18 September 1840, Daily National Intelligencer (Washington, DC), pg. 2:
The battle is fought—the victory won! As goes Ohio, now, so goes the Union!

19 September 1840, Haverhill (MA) Gazette, pg. 2:
Does the Banner give up Maine. “As goes Maine, so goes 20 other States.”—Banner ‘36.

21 September 1840, Hartford (CT) Daily Courant, “Ohio Against the World,” pg. 2:
As goes Ohio, now, so goes the Union!

7 October 1840, New Hampshire Sentinel (NH), pg. 3:
“As goes Maine, so goes New-Hampshire”—was Isaac Hill’s declaration just before the Maine election.—Eagle.

29 October 1840, Pittsfield (MA) Sun, pg. 3:
“As goes Pennsylvania, so goes the Union!” said the N. Y. Star in 1836. The result of the Presidential election in 1840 will show that the prediction of the Star in 1836 is equally applicable to the present contest.

14 November 1840, Haverhill (MA) Gazette, pg. 3:
“As goes Maine, so goes 20 other states.”—Essex Banner, of 1838.

17 November 1840, The Daily Picayune (Philadelphia, PA), “Election Returns,” pg. 3, col. 3:
It is now almost a positive certainty that Pennsylvania has abandoned the present administration and given her vote to Gen. harrison— thus keeping good the old saying “As goes Pennsylvania, so goes the Union.”

16 September 1844, The Globe (Washington, DC), pg. 4, col. 3:
The federal party felt most acutely the watch-word of their leader, Mr. Evans, “As goes Maine, so goes the Union;” and actuated by such all-exciting motives, their whole “vitality” was expended in the contest.
(George Evans, a Maine senator.—ed.)

24 September 1844, Republican Farmer (Bridgeport, CT), pg. 3, col. 1:
“As goes Maine, so goes the Union.” Polk, Dallas, and Victory!

3 October 1844, Pittsfield (MA) Sun, pg. 1, col. 7:
THE MAINE TORNADO.—The Whigs are now trying to rebut the influence of the Maine election, by lying down Anderson’s majority. (...) “As goes Maine, so goes the Union,” is becoming the watchword of the Democratic Hosts from Georgia to Michigan.

22 September 1848, Richmond (VA) Enquirer, pg. 4, col. 4:
“AS MAINE GOES, SO GOES THE UNION.”

10 June 1852, New York (NY) Daily Times, “Democratic Republican Meeting,” pg. 1:
United, the Democracy of New-York never were defeated; and, as goes New-York, so goes the Union.

17 September 1853, Hartford (CT) Daily Courant, pg. 2:
The New Bedford Mercury says that it was once an old political maxim: “as goes Maine, so goes the Union,” and very pathetically enquires, what will become of the Union, hen Maine won’t “go” any where!

Google Books
Three years on the Kansas border
By John McNamara
New York, NY: Miller, Orton & Mulligan
1856
Pg. 141:
“As goes the Empire State, so goes the Union.” As goes Weston, so goes Kansas!

Google Books
April 1856, United States Democratic Review, pg. 324:
One piece of advice in your ear, in all your ears—don’t make the mistake to believe that you can get along without New-York. As goes New-York, so goes the Union. ‘Tis an old saw.

Google Books
Hope Marshall; or, Government and its offices
By Nancy Polk Lasselle
Washington, DC: H. Lasselle,
1859 [©1858]
Pg. 269:
It will require an immense amount of money to secure that State (Pennsylvania—ed.); and, you know, it has grown to be almost a tradition with politicians that as the Old Keystone goes so goes the Union; consequently, the securing of that State is considered of the first importance.

28 July 1860, Oconto (WI) Pioneer, pg. 2, col. 6:
We have good accounts from Maine, the first State to vote for State officers in September. A correspondent in Brunswick, describing a great mass meeting there, addressed by Governor Morrile, Mr. Burlingame and Israel Washburne, jr., the Republican candidate for Governor. “In conclusion,” writes the correspondent, “let me say that the people of Maine are alive, and are sensible of the real issue before the country.—Your readers may be assured that no effort will be spared to roll up such a vote as shall make true again the old adage, ‘As goes Maine, so goes the Union.’”

22 September 1864, Milwaukee (WI) Sentinel, pg. 2:
“As goes Maine, so goes the country,” is an axiom as old as the Harrison whirlwind of 1840.

12 September 1871, Idaho Statesman (ID), pg. 2:
We believe it was democrats who have invented the saying, “as goes California, so goes the nation.”

11 September 1884, North Manchester (IN) Journal, pg. 2, col. 1:
As goes Maine so goes the Nation, and the ides of November will witness one of the greatest Republican victories ever known.

13 September 1894, The Evening Repository (Canton, OH), pg. 4, col. 1:
“As Maine goes, so goes the Nation.” There can be no doubt of it.

Google News Archive
4 November 1936, Pittsburgh (PA) Press, pg. 1, col. 2:
A New Slogan
The old adage, “As Maine goes, so goes the Nation,” was revised last night.

It now reads: “As Maine goes, so goes Vermont.”

Google News Archive
5 November 1936, The Dispatch (Lexington, NC), pg. 1, col. 1:
ROOSEVELT CARRIES ALL BUT TWO STATES
523 Electorial Votes To Only
8 For Landon Makes History

“As Maine goes, so goes Vermont,” commented James A. Farley, Democratic national chairman, yesterday as he surveyed returns from Tuesday’s election showing that President Roosevelt carried every state in the Union except these two rock-bound Bew England states.

Time magazine
THE PRESIDENCY: Triumph
Monday, Nov. 16, 1936
(...)
It was a more than proud grandfather who, the next evening, went down in triumph to board his special train at Hyde Park station. Some 300 neighbors were there to bid him farewell with cheers and placards. Shrieked one, “Roosevelt—46 States Honor Him! Dutchess County?’’ Shrieked another, “As Maine Goes—So Goes Vermont!’’

Franklin Roosevelt, having a public taste of election triumph, pointed to that placard and cried: “That sign’s all right, and it’s all my fault. That’s one time I didn’t take Jim Farley’s advice. He wanted me to go into Vermont and Maine.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Monday, January 04, 2010 • Permalink