The United States presidential election of 1952 took place in an era when Cold War tension between the United States and the Soviet Union was escalating rapidly. In the United States Senate, Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin had become a national figure after chairing congressional investigations into the issue of Communist spies within the U.S. government. McCarthy's so-called "witch hunt", combined with national tension and weariness after two years of bloody stalemate in the Korean War and the early 1950s recession, set the stage for a hotly-fought presidential contest.
Unpopular incumbent President Harry S. Truman decided not to run, so the Democratic Party instead nominated Governor Adlai Stevenson of Illinois; Stevenson had gained a reputation in Illinois as an intellectual and eloquent orator. The Republican Party countered with popular war hero General Dwight D. Eisenhower and won in a landslide, ending 20 consecutive years of Democratic control of the White House.