The Democratic presidential nomination of 1952 was decided at the convention. After President Truman's withdrawal from the race, the frontrunner was Tennessee senator Estes Kefauver, who had defeated Truman in the New Hampshire primary. The nominating process was still controlled by party bosses, however, who used their influence at state conventions to choose delegates. They mistrusted Kefauver, whose anti-corruption hearings in the Senate had revealed ties between the urban machines and organized crime. When the convention opened in Chicago, the only thing certain was that the eventual nominee would emerge not from the floor, but the smoke-filled room.
The governor of Illinois, Adlai Stevenson, grandson and namesake of a 19th century vice president, and known for his sharp intellect and oratorical skills, had been urged to run, but heretofore had declined. Asked to give the welcoming address to delegates, Stevenson's witty and rousing speech emboldened his supporters, and after meeting with the boss of the Illinois delegation, he agreed reluctantly to offer his name. Kefauver lead in the first balloting, but Stevenson gained in the second round, and on the third ballot secured the nomination. After briefly considering several candidates including Kefauver, the convention settled on Senator John Sparkman, a conservative segregationist from Alabama, for the vice-presidential nomination.
The Stevenson-Sparkman ticket trailed in the polls throughout the campaign, and in the election the White House would go to the Republicans for the first time in a generation.
Jugate pinbacks for Stevenson and Sparkman are uncommon.