The So-Called Foreign Vote
An Organization known as the Foreign Language Information Service, which exists for no political purpose other than the endeavor to supply United States newspapers published in foreign tongues with material which may aid in the further Americanization of their readers, has just completed a survey of some 850 of such papers with reference to their attitude in the present presidential campaign. The results of this survey have been printed from time to time as the complete figures for various national groups became available.
As might have been expected, the survey shows these periodicals very sharply divided in their attitude toward the two chief candidates and the principal issues of the campaign. On the prohibition issue, which seems to arouse more discussion than any other, the predominating tendency is in favor of modification. It is notable that this is not the case in the Finnish group, a fact which in view of the existing prohibition law in Finland, seems significant. Among German language papers, twenty have editorially urged the election of Governor Smith and eight the election of Mr. Hoover. In the Scandinavian press, including Swedish, Norwegian and Danish papers, twenty-six support the Republican candidate and two the Governor of New York. Among Finnish papers, ten have been for Hoover and none for Smith, and of the Polish papers, seventeen are for the New Yorker and eighteen for Hoover.
As one goes into the list of papers supported by citizens originating in central or southeastern Europe, one finds the tendency toward Smith, which may perhaps be explained by his attitude on the liberalization of the immigration law. For example, nineteen Czech and Slovak papers were for Smith and two for Hoover. Of the Jugoslav group, ten are for Smith and two for Hoover. Of the eighteen Hungarian papers, sixteen are for Smith and seven for Hoover. Italy, on the border between east and west, gives twenty-two papers for Smith to eighteen for Hoover. It is interesting to note that apparently there is no cleavage along religious lines, Mr. Hoover finding strong support in such predominantly Roman Catholic groups as the Poles, Italians and Hungarians. Nor does it appear that the old-time radicalism in the foreign language press, which long made it largely socialistic or communistic in tone, still persists. Out of the 850 papers scanned, only forty-six supported the Socialists, Socialist-Labor, or Workers Party nominees.
The investigators report that to an extraordinary extent the personalities of the leading candidates have been discussed in the foreign language press. The humble origin of both, with the high station to which each has attained, seems to have fired the imagination of millions of foreign-born voters who see in their nominees the vindication of American ideals and opportunities.
There are estimated to be 7, 5000,000 foreign-born voters in the United States. Had it been possible to weld them into one coherent force, they might readily hold the balance of power in the event of a close election. But if the newspapers which may be taken as their spokesmen can be accepted as presenting a fair picture of their present political attitude, these foreign-born voters are divided on issues and candidates very much along lines of the native American electorate. The study made by the Foreign Language Information Service is interesting, just as the work it is doing through these same papers for the further Americanization of the foreign born within the borders of the united States is valuable.